Saudi billionaire prince eyes world cities for mile-high tower
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
The Syrian intervention John McCain and the Clintons want would be a war for Islamism, not democracy.
The Obama administration appears to be moving toward arming rebels in Syria, though the White House has only publicly confirmed an increase in the “scope and scale” of its military support.
By one estimate, seven of nine key rebel combatant groups are Islamist. “As the civil war has dragged on, the rebels have become more Islamist and extreme,” the Economist reports. Thus the administration’s decision to arm only the non-Islamist rebels may soon resemble O.J. Simpson’s search for the “real killers.”
Arms shipments approved by the Obama administration have already ended up in the hands of jihadists in Libya. “The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya,” reported the New York Times, “allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.”
Operation Fast and Furious meets American foreign policy.
In his apparent Syria about-face, the president has been egged on by the Clintons. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already proposed arming the Syrian rebels, only to see cooler heads prevail. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has also clamored for greater U.S. involvement.
Upon reports that President Obama was reconsidering his position, Bill Clinton patted his successor on the head. “It looks to me like this thing is trending in the right direction,” he told MSNBC. He urged Obama to ignore opinion polls showing massive public opposition to any Syria intervention beyond humanitarian assistance.
“What the American people are saying when they tell you not to do these things, they’re not telling you not to do these things,” Clinton said, according to Politico. “They hire you to win … to look around the corner and see down the road.”
The Clintons’ foreign-policy views are aligned with those of Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Hawks of a feather flocked together in support of the bipartisan Mendendez-Corker bill, which contains a provision for arming Syrian rebels and easily passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The only Republican to vote against the bill rebuked his colleagues. “This is an important moment,” Rand Paul said. “You will be funding, today, the allies of al-Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”
Yet the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may be the only place where Paul stands alone among Republicans on this issue. “We have entire Christian villages slaughtered, women and children, by the Syrian rebels,” Laura Ingraham said on Fox News. “The idea that were going to send arms to these people who are slaughtering Christians, and have one goal, which is to establish an Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East—and, if they get their way, throughout Africa as well—is ludicrous.”
The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein argues, “It’s hard to believe that the same administration that brought us Benghazi would have such perfect information about which rebel groups in a bloody war-torn country are completely free of Islamist links, let alone have the logistical ability to ensure the weapons don’t end up in the hands of bad actors.”
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that only 11 percent of Republicans favored arming Syrian rebels while just 15 percent backed U.S. military involvement. Republicans and independents were more likely than Democrats to want to take no action at all. A Gallup poll found that Democrats, Republicans, and independents were all opposed to the United States entering Syria’s civil war by majorities greater than 60 percent.
For years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, conservatives who spoke out against U.S. wars in the Middle East were smeared as apologists for Islamic terror. But the evidence is mounting that these wars and “kinetic military actions” have done much to unleash the very forces they were launched to combat, leaving militant Islamists on the march from Iraq to Mali.
Foreign aid dollars are being spent where Americans are reviled. U.S. troops are dying in countries that don’t seem to be trending toward liberal democracy.
Syria may be the clearest case yet of how an intervention against an indisputably brutal dictator could cut against American national interests. Even with promises of no boots on the ground, it may be the Clinton-McCain contingent’s toughest sell.
Perhaps they have already closed the deal with Obama. But the perpetual hawks are losing the American people, left, right, and center.
W. James Antle III is editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation and author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?
The source said there are currently 8,000 Saudi nationals fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
According to a report by mirataljazeera.net published on Friday, a Saudi source said the bodies were delivered to the country in King Fahad International Airport.
The source said the Saudi regime had sent a number of diplomats to Turkey in order to facilitate the transfer process.
According to the source, the Saudi regime did not dispatch anyone to fight in Syria, and that the 70 people had been fighting on their own will.
The source added that there were four women among the 70 killed. He also said there are currently about 8,000 Saudi nationals fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence sources help with transferring fighters to Syria through Jordan.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
Damascus says the West and its regional allies, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the militants.
In an interview broadcast on Turkish television in April, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants take power in Syria, they could destabilize the entire Middle East region for decades.
“If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control… the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he stated.
Recent polls show that only 48% of the country living outside Instanbul support Turkey’s Prime Minister, Mr Erdogan while inside Istanbul that figure collapses to a mere and shocking 30%.
Similar polls in Syria as revealed by NATO sources, no less, reveal that Mr Assad enjoys 70% support from the Syrian people while only 10% oppose his rule.
Mr Obama! Mr. Cameron! Of course we must arm the Syrian rebels. This goes without saying……
….but let us be consistent in our principles and hold firmly to our high moral standards.
THE UNDEMOCRATIC HUMANITARIAN NIGHTMARE THAT IS MODERN TURKEY MUST BE ADDRESSED FORTHWITH.
THE TURKISH PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH!
Arm the Turkish rebels immediately in order that we may all sleep soundly at night and bestride our various narrow worlds in continuing good conscience.
[The "Eager Lion" exercise playing-out in Jordan this week is an international Special Forces war game, involving the 5th Fleet's Expeditionary Strike Group 5 and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, commanding more than 40 amphibious assault ships, carrying at least 7 helo aircraft carriers, with up to 200 helicopters, as many as 50 Harrier jump-jets and an unknown number of tilt-rotar Ospreys. It has been reported that a "detachment of F16s" (24 aircraft?) and Patriot missile batteries would be left in Jordan after the exercise.
Since Jordan is almost a landlocked country, except for the port of Aqaba, on the Red Sea (Damascus is 286.1 miles away from Aqaba), this means that most of these 40 ships are probably in the Med, where they will be face-to-face with the Russian fleet, now stationed off Syria. The USS Nimitz Strike Group, with 90 fixed-wing aircraft, is also currently consigned to the 5th Fleet. Regardless of the number of F16s left behind in Jordan, the Navy alone, has enough assets on hand to put a Syrian "no-fly-zone" in place. This says nothing about the sabotage potential of nearly one thousand Navy Seals and Marines, that are also on board those ships. It looks like Obama plans on making Syria a navy operation.
Hell is coming, probably within a week. Look for Eager Lion to "go live" at the end of the war game, just like the Sept. 11 attacks and the London train bombing. I guess that I was getting tired of waiting for Armegeddon to begin, anyway. We all will have ringside seats to the big Big Show.]
By Oliver Holmes
(Reuters) – The United States said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman’s request, and Russia bristled at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.
Washington, which has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, pledged military support to Syrian rebels this week, citing what it said was the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons – an allegation Damascus has denied.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved a Jordanian request for American F-16s and Patriot missiles to remain in the Western-backed kingdom after a joint military exercise there next week, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Western diplomats said on Friday Washington was considering a limited no-fly zone over parts of Syria, but the White House noted later that it would be far harder and costlier to set one up there than it was in Libya, saying the United States had no national interest in pursuing that option.
Russia, an ally of Damascus and fierce opponent of outside military intervention in Syria, said any attempt to impose a no-fly zone using F-16s and Patriots from Jordan would be illegal.
“You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The idea of a no-fly zone was endorsed by Egypt, the biggest Arab nation. President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist more distant from Washington than his deposed military predecessor, made a keynote speech in Cairo throwing Egypt’s substantial weight more firmly than before against President Bashar al-Assad.
Despite their differences, the United States and Russia announced in May they would try to convene peace talks involving the Syrian government and its opponents, but have set no date.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said chemical attacks by Syrian forces and Hezbollah’s involvement on Assad’s side showed a lack of commitment to negotiations and threatened to “put a political settlement out of reach”.
Kerry had not previously expressed such pessimism about prospects for the conference, which has run into many obstacles.
These include disarray in the Syrian opposition and military gains by the Syrian army and its Lebanese Hezbollah allies against rebels who have few ways to counter Assad’s air power.
The involvement of Hezbollah fighters on the side of Assad, a fellow ally of the main Shi’ite power Iran, has galvanized Arab governments, including Egypt, behind the rebels, who mostly follow the Sunni version of Islam that dominates the Arab world.
That has hardened sectarian confrontation across the region, which some Arabs hope might be softened by the election of the moderate Hassan Rohani as Iran’s president – though few believe he can truly influence Tehran’s supreme leader.
Mursi, addressing thousands of cheering supporters at a stadium gathering organized by Egyptian Sunni clerics, demanded Hezbollah pull out of Syria and, after his Muslim Brotherhood joined calls for jihad against Assad and his Shi’ite allies, the president said Cairo had now cut diplomatic ties with Damascus.
Egypt’s powerful, U.S.-backed army seems unlikely to involve itself in Syria, but religious passions are running high and more Egyptian volunteers could travel to join the rebels.
The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian jets and artillery had again attacked Jobar, a battered district where rebels operate on the edge of central Damascus.
It said heavy artillery was also shelling opposition fighters in the provinces of Homs, Aleppo and Deir al-Zor.
Western powers have been reluctant in the past to arm Syrian insurgents, let alone give them sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles that might fall into the hands of Sunni Islamist insurgents in rebel ranks who have pledged loyalty to al Qaeda.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Salim Idriss told Reuters late on Friday that rebels urgently needed anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, as well as a protective no-fly zone.
“But our friends in the United States haven’t told us yet that they are going to support us with weapons and ammunition,” he said after meeting U.S. and European officials in Turkey.
A source in the Middle East familiar with U.S. dealings with the rebels has said planned arms supplies would include automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
The United Nations says at least 93,000 people, including civilians and combatants, have died in the Syrian civil war, with the monthly death toll averaging 5,000 in the past year.
Abu Nidal, from the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, said U.S. help was welcome, but questioned how effective it would be.
“I doubt the influx of weapons will significantly tip the balance into our favor,” he said via Skype. “They might help push back regime offensives of the last few days.”
SYRIAN OFFICERS DEFECT
Abu Nidal’s faction is not part of the more moderate FSA, Washington’s chosen channel for military aid, but he said the two groups fight alongside each other on the battlefield.
The FSA was set up by defectors from the Syrian military in August 2011, but many rebel factions operate independently.
Assad’s armed forces have remained relatively cohesive, although a Turkish official said 71 Syrian army officers, including six generals, had just defected to Turkey, in the biggest such mass desertion in months.
Western nations have stopped short of arming Syrian rebels or mounting an air campaign as they did, with U.N. approval, to help Libyan insurgents topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Intervening against Assad is considered riskier because Syria has a stronger military, sits on the sectarian faultlines of the Middle East, and is supported by Iran and Russia, which has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.
Yet an apparent shift in the military balance in Assad’s favor, especially with the arrival of thousands of Shi’ite fighters from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, has made his swift removal look unlikely without outside intervention.
However, Israel’s defense minister suggested the pendulum could still swing the other way, despite the capture this month of Qusair, a former rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border.
“Bashar al-Assad’s victory in Qusair was not a turning point in the Syrian civil war, and I do not believe that he has the momentum to win,” said Moshe Yaalon, who is visiting Washington.
“He controls just 40 percent of the territory in Syria. Hezbollah is involved in the fighting in Syria and has suffered many casualties in the battles, and as far as we know, it is more than 1,000 casualties,” Yaalon said in a statement.
“We should be prepared for a long civil war with ups and downs.”
Israel has not taken sides in Syria, but does not want to see any Western anti-aircraft missiles or other advanced arms reach Islamist militants hostile to the Jewish state.
(Additional reporting by Jonathon Burch in Ankara, Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, Mark Hosenball in Washington, Thomas Grove in Moscow and Tom Perry and Alastair Macdonald in Cairo; Editing by Andrew Roche)
[Obama is such a conceited bastard that he really believes that he can pull all of this off, without setting-off a true global conflagration. Iran has no choice but to reinforce Syrian govt. positions, since the war on Syria is merely the first step in the war on Iran itself. Obama and the chickenhawk Zionists, who are all afraid to launch a frontal attack against the forces of the Revolutionary Guard, are opening the back door to Iran, leading from Syria, then to Lebanon, before it backfires across the deserts of Jordan and Iraq. Any fool would already know that the Pentagon will NOT be able to prevent the burning of Syria and Iran from spreading to the oil assets of Saudi Arabia. Where is "Red Adair," when we are about to need him much more now, than when he answered the calls coming from "Desert Storm" to put-out the wells fired by Saddam Hussein?]
World Exclusive: US urges UK and France to join in supplying arms to Syrian rebels as MPs fear that UK will be drawn into growing conflict
Washington’s decision to arm Syria’s Sunni Muslim rebels has plunged America into the great Sunni-Shia conflict of the Islamic Middle East, entering a struggle that now dwarfs the Arab revolutions which overthrew dictatorships across the region.
For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East.
The Independent on Sunday has learned that a military decision has been taken in Iran – even before last week’s presidential election – to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against the largely Sunni rebellion that has cost almost 100,000 lives in just over two years. Iran is now fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime, according to pro-Iranian sources which have been deeply involved in the Islamic Republic’s security, even to the extent of proposing to open up a new ‘Syrian’ front on the Golan Heights against Israel.
In years to come, historians will ask how America – after its defeat in Iraq and its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for 2014 – could have so blithely aligned itself with one side in a titanic Islamic struggle stretching back to the seventh century death of the Prophet Mohamed. The profound effects of this great schism, between Sunnis who believe that the father of Mohamed’s wife was the new caliph of the Muslim world and Shias who regard his son in law Ali as his rightful successor – a seventh century battle swamped in blood around the present-day Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kerbala – continue across the region to this day. A 17th century Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbott, compared this Muslim conflict to that between “Papists and Protestants”.
America’s alliance now includes the wealthiest states of the Arab Gulf, the vast Sunni territories between Egypt and Morocco, as well as Turkey and the fragile British-created monarchy in Jordan. King Abdullah of Jordan – flooded, like so many neighbouring nations, by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees – may also now find himself at the fulcrum of the Syrian battle. Up to 3,000 American ‘advisers’ are now believed to be in Jordan, and the creation of a southern Syria ‘no-fly zone’ – opposed by Syrian-controlled anti-aircraft batteries – will turn a crisis into a ‘hot’ war. So much for America’s ‘friends’.
Its enemies include the Lebanese Hizballah, the Alawite Shiite regime in Damascus and, of course, Iran. And Iraq, a largely Shiite nation which America ‘liberated’ from Saddam Hussein’s Sunni minority in the hope of balancing the Shiite power of Iran, has – against all US predictions – itself now largely fallen under Tehran’s influence and power. Iraqi Shiites as well as Hizballah members, have both fought alongside Assad’s forces.
Washington’s excuse for its new Middle East adventure – that it must arm Assad’s enemies because the Damascus regime has used sarin gas against them – convinces no-one in the Middle East. Final proof of the use of gas by either side in Syria remains almost as nebulous as President George W. Bush’s claim that Saddam’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
For the real reason why America has thrown its military power behind Syria’s Sunni rebels is because those same rebels are now losing their war against Assad. The Damascus regime’s victory this month in the central Syrian town of Qusayr, at the cost of Hizballah lives as well as those of government forces, has thrown the Syrian revolution into turmoil, threatening to humiliate American and EU demands for Assad to abandon power. Arab dictators are supposed to be deposed – unless they are the friendly kings or emirs of the Gulf – not to be sustained. Yet Russia has given its total support to Assad, three times vetoing UN Security Council resolutions that might have allowed the West to intervene directly in the civil war.
In the Middle East, there is cynical disbelief at the American contention that it can distribute arms – almost certainly including anti-aircraft missiles – only to secular Sunni rebel forces in Syria represented by the so-called Free Syria Army. The more powerful al-Nusrah Front, allied to al-Qaeda, dominates the battlefield on the rebel side and has been blamed for atrocities including the execution of Syrian government prisoners of war and the murder of a 14-year old boy for blasphemy. They will be able to take new American weapons from their Free Syria Army comrades with little effort.
From now on, therefore, every suicide bombing in Damascus – every war crime committed by the rebels – will be regarded in the region as Washington’s responsibility. The very Sunni-Wahabi Islamists who killed thousands of Americans on 11th September, 2011 – who are America’s greatest enemies as well as Russia’s – are going to be proxy allies of the Obama administration. This terrible irony can only be exacerbated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adament refusal to tolerate any form of Sunni extremism. His experience in Chechenya, his anti-Muslim rhetoric – he has made obscene remarks about Muslim extremists in a press conference in Russian – and his belief that Russia’s old ally in Syria is facing the same threat as Moscow fought in Chechenya, plays a far greater part in his policy towards Bashar al-Assad than the continued existence of Russia’s naval port at the Syrian Mediterranean city of Tartous.
For the Russians, of course, the ‘Middle East’ is not in the ‘east’ at all, but to the south of Moscow; and statistics are all-important. The Chechen capital of Grozny is scarcely 500 miles from the Syrian frontier. Fifteen per cent of Russians are Muslim. Six of the Soviet Union’s communist republics had a Muslim majority, 90 per cent of whom were Sunni. And Sunnis around the world make up perhaps 85 per cent of all Muslims. For a Russia intent on repositioning itself across a land mass that includes most of the former Soviet Union, Sunni Islamists of the kind now fighting the Assad regime are its principal antagonists.
Iranian sources say they liaise constantly with Moscow, and that while Hizballah’s overall withdrawal from Syria is likely to be completed soon – with the maintenance of the militia’s ‘intelligence’ teams inside Syria – Iran’s support for Damascus will grow rather than wither. They point out that the Taliban recently sent a formal delegation for talks in Tehran and that America will need Iran’s help in withdrawing from Afghanistan. The US, the Iranians say, will not be able to take its armour and equipment out of the country during its continuing war against the Taliban without Iran’s active assistance. One of the sources claimed – not without some mirth — that the French were forced to leave 50 tanks behind when they left because they did not have Tehran’s help.
It is a sign of the changing historical template in the Middle East that within the framework of old Cold War rivalries between Washington and Moscow, Israel’s security has taken second place to the conflict in Syria. Indeed, Israel’s policies in the region have been knocked askew by the Arab revolutions, leaving its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hopelessly adrift amid the historic changes.
Only once over the past two years has Israel fully condemned atrocities committed by the Assad regime, and while it has given medical help to wounded rebels on the Israeli-Syrian border, it fears an Islamist caliphate in Damascus far more than a continuation of Assad’s rule. One former Israel intelligence commander recently described Assad as “Israel’s man in Damascus”. Only days before President Mubarak was overthrown, both Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called Washington to ask Obama to save the Egyptian dictator. In vain.
If the Arab world has itself been overwhelmed by the two years of revolutions, none will have suffered from the Syrian war in the long term more than the Palestinians. The land they wish to call their future state has been so populated with Jewish Israeli colonists that it can no longer be either secure or ‘viable’. ‘Peace’ envoy Tony Blair’s attempts to create such a state have been laughable. A future ‘Palestine’ would be a Sunni nation. But today, Washington scarcely mentions the Palestinians.
Another of the region’s supreme ironies is that Hamas, supposedly the ‘super-terrorists’ of Gaza, have abandoned Damascus and now support the Gulf Arabs’ desire to crush Assad. Syrian government forces claim that Hamas has even trained Syrian rebels in the manufacture and use of home-made rockets.
In Arab eyes, Israel’s 2006 war against the Shia Hizballah was an attempt to strike at the heart of Iran. The West’s support for Syrian rebels is a strategic attempt to crush Iran. But Iran is going to take the offensive. Even for the Middle East, these are high stakes. Against this fearful background, the Palestinian tragedy continues.
[This rebranding of democratic protesters as "terrorists" is a prelude to unleashing lethal force upon the assembled Turkish patriots. They are there to "redress grieveances," namely Erdogan's subversion of Turkey's democracy to create his Islamist Dictatorship. At this point, the only thing that can save these people is further demonstrations, which will undoubtedly lead to a massive demonstration of superior firepower by the dictator's minions and the mass death of dozens patriotic democratic forces. If Erdogan is not very careful he may inadvertantly rebrand all of the protesters as "freedom fighters, when he starts calling them all terrorists.
The international community has absolutely NO use for honest reporting on these Imperial subjects, but the people are NOT blind to the fact that the weapon of "democratic-revolution," which Erdogan has so eagerly helped the Evil Empire to deploy against Bashar Assad, has now been turned upon Erdogan himself. Zbigniew Brzezinski was right, very SOON... It will also be unleashed upon Obama, too.
I pray to God that I might be worthy of seeing that joyous day arise very soon.]
Egemen Bağış has been very critical of foreign media reports of the ongoing protests in Turkey. DHA photo
Everyone who enters Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the heart of nearly 20-day-long protests against the government, will be considered a member or a supporter of a terrorist organization, Turkey’s European Union minister said in a televised interview late last night.
“I request our citizens who supported the protests until today kindly to return to their homes,” Egemen Bağış said in an interview on broadcaster A Haber.
“From now on the state will unfortunately have to consider everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror organization,” he said. “Our prime minister has already assured [activists] about their aim with the protests. The protests from now on will play into the hands of some separatist organizations that want to break the peace and prioritize vandalism and terrorism.”
High-ranking Turkish officials have been posting warnings on the issue and everyone should act in a sensitive manner, he said.
Clashes between the police and protesters in Istanbul continued around the square along with some other parts of the city until this morning.
Bağış repeated his criticism of foreign media for exaggerating the protests in Turkey.
“Unfortunately, the foreign press has made a big mistake on this issue,” he said, saying that they wanted to reflect Turkey as a country where life has halted.
“Hours-long broadcasting that is even not interrupted by commercials has damaged Turkey’s image,” he said.
“But these long broadcasts surely have a financial reason, and this will be revealed. International channels such as BBC and CNN never do such broadcasting without any advertisement. Somebody somehow financed these broadcasts. Like our prime minister said, the losses of the interest rate lobby due to low interest rates have exceeded $650 billion in Turkey,” he said, adding that this was a result of the government’s dedication. “This drives them crazy and they are doing everything to disturb the calm in our country and win back their losses.”
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s stock market plunged 4.32 percent to a 13-month low on Saturday, closing at 7,294.38, with its biggest listed companies losing value.
Only one of the 156 companies listed on the Tadawul All-Share Index, the food-manufacturer Herfy, gained ground. All 155 others fell. Al Rajhi Bank, the largest Saudi lender by market value, fell the most since March, while Etihad Etisalat Co. (EEC), known as Mobily, slid the most since November 2012.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic), the world’s biggest petrochemical maker, fell to the lowest level since May 19.
Al Rajhi slid 4.2 percent to SR69, while Mobily lost 4.4 percent to 76.75 riyals. Sabic dropped 4 percent to 90 riyals.
“The Saudi market is being pressured today mainly due to the escalating geopolitical tensions in the region,” Turki Fadaak, head of research and consultancy at Albilad Investment Co., was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
US crude hit a nine-month intraday high on Friday, after news that the United States had authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels led to concerns about Middle East supplies.
US stocks fell on Friday on low volume to end their third negative week in four on lingering concern over whether the world’s central banks will soon start to trim their stimulus programs.
[It is typical Wahhabi terrorism against revered and symbolic targets, in their attempts to cover-up the truth about their pretend substitute for "True Islam." They cannot enforce their terrorist "Shariah" if the people know real Islam, this is why they blow-up monuments and mosques, and dig-up markers at cemetaries. They want to destroy Islam by burying it under piles of Saudi dung. In Saudi Arabia itself they bury history with development projects, the dozers and diggers work overtime to destroy revered relics, in order to cover them with a new history.]
ISLAMABAD: Militants on Saturday attacked a historic 121-year-old building in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province that was used by the country’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, killing a policeman and causing extensive damage to the structure.
The militants targeted the Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat, a holiday resort located about 120km from the provincial capital of Quetta, at 1.15am.
They planted and set off four bombs and then opened fire. The explosions and gunfire triggered a blaze that was extinguished after four hours.
A policeman was killed in the shooting, police officials said. The wooden parts of the building, furniture and memorabilia associated with Jinnah were destroyed by the fire.
Footage on television showed that the roof of the building had collapsed and only its structure made of bricks was left intact.
District police chief Asghar Ali said a bomb disposal squad had found and defused six more bombs, each containing about three kilograms of explosives.
He said it took longer than expected for the fire to be controlled as there are no fire tenders in Ziarat. A fire tender sent from Quetta was used to put out the blaze.
Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation though they were unable to trace the attackers.
The residency, built in 1892, was originally used as the summer residence of the agent of the British Governor General.
Jinnah spent the last days of his life in the building while suffering from tuberculosis and the structure was later declared a national monument.
by FRANKLIN LAMB
(Beirut) – The short answer is Iran and Hezbollah according to Congressional sources. “The Syrian army’s victory at al-Qusayr was more than the administration could accept given that town’s strategic position in the region. Its capture by the Assad forces has essentially added Syria to Iran’s list of victories starting with Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, as well as its growing influence in the Gulf.”
Other sources are asserting that Obama actually did not want to invoke direct military aid the rebels fighting to topple the Assad government or even to make use of American military power in Syria for several reasons. Among these are the lack of American public support for yet another American war in the Middle East, the fact that there appears to be no acceptable alternative to the Assad government on the horizon, the position of the US intelligence community and the State Department and Pentagon that intervention in Syria would potentially turn out very badly for the US and gut what’s left of its influence in the region. It short, that the US getting involved in Syria could turn out even worse than Iraq, by intensifying a regional sectarian war without any positive outcome in sight.
Obama was apparently serious earlier about a negotiated diplomatic settlement pre-Qusayr and there were even some positives signs coming from Damascus, Moscow, and even Tehran John Kerry claimed. But that has changed partly because Russia and the US have both hardened their demands. Consequently, the Obama administration has now essentially thrown in the towel on the diplomatic track. This observer was advised by more than one Congressional staffer that Obama’s team has concluded that the Assad government was not getting their message or taking them seriously and that Assad’s recent military gains and rising popular support meant that a serious Geneva II initiative was not going to happen.
In addition, Obama has been weakened recently by domestic politics and a number of distractions and potential scandals not least of which is the disclosures regarding the massive NSA privacy invasion. In addition, the war lobby led by Senators McClain and Lindsay Graham is still pounding their drums and claim that Obama would be in violation of his oath of office and by jeopardizing the national security interest of the United States by allowing Iran to essentially own Syria once Assad quells the uprising.” Both Senators welcomed the chemical weapons assessment. For months they have been saying that Obama has not been doing enough to help the rebels. “U.S. credibility is on the line,” they said in a joint statement this week. “Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions,” they said, such as using long-range missiles to degrade Assad’s air power and missile capabilities. Another neo-con, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said the opposition forces risk defeat without heavier weapons, but he also warned that may not be enough. “The U.S. should move swiftly to shift the balance on the ground in Syria by considering grounding the Syrian air force with stand-off weapons and protecting a safe zone in northern Syria with Patriot missiles in Turkey,” Casey said.
According to some analysts, Obama could alternatively authorize the arming and training of the Syrian opposition in Jordan without a no-fly zone. That appears unlikely according to this observers Washington interlocutors because the Pentagon wants to end the Syrian crisis by summers end, the observer was advised “rather than working long term with a motley bunch of jihadists who we could never trust or rely on. The administration has come to the conclusion apparently that if they are in for a penny they are in for a pound, meaning would not allow Iran to control Syria and Hezbollah to pocket Lebanon.”
Secretary of State Kerry had meetings with more than two dozen military specialists on 5/13/13. The Washington Post is reporting that Kerry believes supplying the rebels with weapons might be too little and too late to actually flip the balance on the Syrian ground and this calls “for a military strike to paralyze Al-Assad’s military capacities.” A Pentagon source reported that the USA, France, and Britain are considering a decisive decision to reverse the current Assad momentum and quickly construct one in favor of the rebels” within a time period not exceeding the end of this summer.
Shortly after the meetings began, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia quickly returned to Saudi Arabia from his palace at Casa Blanca, Morocco after receiving a call from his intelligence chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan. Bander reportedly had a representative at the White House during the meetings with President Obama’s team. King Abdullah was reportedly advised by Kerry to be prepared for a rapid expansion of the growing regional conflict.
What happens between now and the end of summer is likely to be catastrophic for the Syrian public and perhaps Lebanon. The “chemical weapons-red line” is not taken seriously on Capitol Hill for the reason that the same “inclusive evidence” of months ago is the same that is suddenly being cited to justify what may become essentially an all-out war against the Syrian government and anyone who gets in the way. Hand wringing over the loss of 125 lives due to chemical weapons, whoever did use them, pales in comparison to the more 50,000 additional lives that will be lost in the coming months, a figure that Pentagon planners and the White House have “budgeted” as the price of toppling the Assad government.
“We are going to see a rapid escalation of the conflict”, a staffer on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee emailed this observer: “The president has made a decision to give whatever humanitarian aid, as well as political and diplomatic support to the opposition that in necessary. Additionally direct support to the (Supreme Military Council), will be provided and that includes military support.” The staffer quoted the words of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to the media on 5/13/13 to the same effect.
A part of this “humanitarian assistance” the US is going to established in the coming weeks a “limited, humanitarian no-fly zone, that will begin along several miles of the Jordanian and Turkish borders in certain military areas into Syrian territory, and would be set up and presented as a limited bid to train and equip rebel forces and protect refugees. But in reality, as we saw in Libya a Syrian no fly zone would very likely include all of Syria.
Libya’s no-fly zones made plain that there is no such thing as a “limited zone”. Put briefly, a “no-fly zone” means essentially a declaration of all-out war. Once the US and its allies start a no fly zone they will expand it and intensify it as they take countless other military actions to protect its zones until the Syrian government falls. “It’s breathtaking to contemplate how this in going to end and how Iran and Russia will respond,” one source concluded.
The White House is trying to assuage the few in Congress as well as a majority of the American public that it can be a limited American involved and that the no-fly zone would not require the destruction of Syrian antiaircraft batteries. This is more nonsense. During the no-fly zone I witnessed from Libya in the summer of 2011 the US backed it up with all manner of refueling, electronic jamming, special-ops on the ground and by mid-July a kid peddling his bike was not safe. Over the 192 days of patrolling the Libyan no-fly zones, NATO countries flew 24,682 sorties including 9,204 bomb strike sorties. NATO claimed it never missed its target but that was also not true. Hundreds of civilians were killed in Libya by no-fly zone attack aircraft that either missed their targets and emptied their bomb bays before returning to base while conducting approximately 48 bombing strikes per day using a variety of bombs and missiles, including more than 350 cruise Tomahawks.
At a Congressional hearing in 2011, then US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates got it right when he explained which discussing Libya “a no-fly zone begins with an attack to destroy all the air defenses … and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.”
According to the accounts published in American media, Obama could alternatively authorize the arming and training of the Syrian opposition in Jordan without a no-fly zone. That appears unlikely because the Pentagon wants to end the Syrian crisis by summers end, the observer was advised “rather than working long term with a motley bunch of jihadists who we could never trust or rely on. The administration has come to the conclusion apparently that if they are in for a penny they are in for a pound.”
In response to a question from this observer about how he thought event might unfold in this region over the coming months, a very insightful long-term congressional aid replied: “Well Franklin, maybe someone will pull a rabbit out of the hat to stop the push for war. But frankly I doubt it. From where I sit I’d wager that Syria as we have known it may soon be no more. And perhaps some other countries in the region also.”
Franklin Lamb , a former Assistant Counsel of the US House Judiciary Committee at the US Congress and Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law in Oregon, earned his Law Degree at Boston University and his LLM, M.Phil, and PhD degrees at the London School of Economics. Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon. He can be reached at: email@example.com He is a regular contributor to Intifada Palestine, is doing research in Lebanon.
[You will be hardpressed to find any Turkey-based media that focuses upon this national news explosion, or gives the protests more than a passing nod. The Turkish Spring is NOT about some park becoming a mall, but IS about the Islamist dictatorship of Mr. Erdogan.]
Activists with the Turkish journalists’ union demonstrated in front of the palace of justice in Istanbul in early May, on World Press Freedom Day. They flew 62 kites, as a sign of protest against the imprisonment of 62 journalists. Before the event, the union had complained about the “massive pressure and threats” emanating from representatives of the government.
Prime Minister Erdogan ordinarily perceives criticism of his administration’s policies as a personal attack, and yet he isn’t above publicly attacking individual journalists. He has reportedly called upon publishers — repeatedly and successfully — to dismiss insubordinate editors.
In response to the liberal daily Milliyet‘s publication of a secret document, he raved: “If this is journalism, then down with your journalism.” The premier, in office for the last 10 years, also likes to use laws governing the press to take action against journalists. He has ordered three new lawsuits to be filed this year.
“The Islamists don’t want diversity of the press,” says noted investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, 43. The leftist author spent more than a year in prison because of the absurd charge that he was part of a right-wing military conspiracy. He and two fellow authors were kept in complete isolation in a high-security wing of the prison in Silivri.
When he was released on bail in March 2012, he said angrily: “If the police officers, public prosecutors and judges who forged this plot are imprisoned here one day, justice will have been served.” Sik has now been charged with threatening and defaming civil servants, offences for which he could face up to seven years in prison.
When Gezi Park at Taksim Square was being cleared, the police shot a tear gas cartridge at his head at close range. Sik collapsed, covered in blood. According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 14 journalists have already been injured, some severely, during reporting on the protests against the Erdogan government. “All journalists in Turkey are afraid,” says Sik, “afraid of being fired and afraid of being arrested.” The government, he adds, is trying to intimidate and silence all critics, which leads to self-censorship.
Erdogan flatly contradicted the chancellor at the joint press conference. “No more than a handful” of journalists had been arrested in Turkey, he said, and “not because of their articles, but because they are putschists, arms smugglers and terrorists.”
If Turkish prosecutors are to be believed, investigative journalist Sik is also a dangerous putschist. He expects that he will be sentenced toward the end of the year, and he could very well be sent to prison again. His 12-year-old daughter has urged him to turn to writing cookbooks.
But that isn’t a future Sik wants for himself. Instead, he is currently working on a book about the Turkish judiciary.
t was mostly angry office workers from Istanbul’s Maslak banking district who appeared on Monday, June 3, during their lunch break at the editorial offices of the NTV news channel. “Stop acting as if nothing were happening,” they chanted, as they railed against what they called the “bought media.” “We can pay you, too,” the roughly 3,000 demonstrators shouted, mocking the NTV employees who had managed to completely ignore the anti-government protests that had already been going on for three days. The protestors had glued Turkish lira bank notes to their banners.
The editors at CNN Türk also fell short of expectations. While CNN International showed live images of the dramatic clashes between police and protesters, the Turkish channel aired a documentary about penguins. Many newspapers complied with the de facto news blackout. Whether the journalists were following government instructions or simply suppressing the news in an act of preemptive obedience is still unclear.
The group Reporters Without Borders was able to verify that 36 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey. The country’s journalists’ union puts the number of media representatives in prison at 62, while the European Federation of Journalists says that there are 66.
Still, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) deny that journalists are persecuted in Turkey. “Some of these negative reports are written on commission,” Erdogan stated on television. “Their sources are wrong.”
As the unrest unfolded almost two weeks ago, mainstream Turkish media did not cover the violent police clashes, but instead broadcast nature and history documentaries, and cooking shows.
Many of the other local networks briefly mentioned the protests, but failed to cover the violent clashes in which scores were injured.
Angered protesters had to turn to the internet, especially Twitter, to get the information out.
In response, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan condemned social media’s role in the riots, singling out what he called the “scourge” of Twitter.
“There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” Erdogan said in the beginning of June.
Most recently two Canadian journalists were arrested by police on Wednesday while covering the ongoing protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The two had been held all day and later released.
Turkish protesters continue to mass while riot police use tear gas and water cannons to break up gatherings.
On Thursday Erdogan issued a final warning to protesters occupying Gezi Park.
“Our patience is at an end,” Erdogan said in a speech. “I am making my warning for the last time.”
Protesters are demanding the government cancel plans to destroy Gezi Park, just meters away from the city’s iconic Taksim Square; for police chiefs in cities with a particularly high rate of violence against protesters to be sacked; and for the release of those that have been detained during the protests.
In the 13 days of anti-government anger, four protesters and one policeman have lost their lives and the number of injured stands above 5,000, prompting Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation to open an investigation into excessive use of force by police.
[FBI Director Mueller is totally full of shit. He doesn't really expect anyone to accept his disingenuine claim that they could have prevented 911 with NSA surveillance, especially considering that the entire Pentagon couldn't stop them, even with direct observation of the suspects in operation "Able Danger."]
[Obama's sickening double-standards are going to seriously come back to bite him in the ass (SEE: ’Grounds’ to believe chemical use by both sides in Syria: UN probe ; Turkish Police Grab 12 Al-Nusra Terrorists In Possession of Two Kilos of Sarin WMD)Hopefully, the Syrian terrorists will turn their American-supplied surface-to-air-missiles on John McCain's jet on his next trip to celebrate with his terrorist buddies. It is highly unlikely that Obama will give them a shot at Air Force One.]
The US is to supply direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time, the White House has announced.
President Obama made the decision after his administration concluded Syrian forces under Bashar al-Assad were using chemical weapons, a spokesman said.
Ben Rhodes did not give details about the military aid other than to say it would be “different in scope and scale to what we have provided before”.
The US had warned any use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line”.
The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says the US announcement is one that the Syrian opposition has been pushing and praying for for months.
It seems clear that President Obama has finally been persuaded, as Britain and France have argued, that the battlefield cannot be allowed to tilt strongly in the regime’s favour, as is currently happening, he adds.
Washington’s “clear” statement was welcomed by Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“Urgent that Syria regime should let UN investigate all reports of chemical weapons use,” he said on his official Twitter feed.
The White House announcement came on the same day the United Nations said the number of those killed in the Syrian conflict had risen to more than 93,000 people.
Mr Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Mr Obama, said the US intelligence community believed the “Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times over the last year”.
He said intelligence officials had a “high confidence” in their assessment, and also estimated that 100 to 150 people had died from chemical weapons attacks, “however, casualty data is likely incomplete”.
“We have consistently said the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses red lines that have existed in the international community for decades,” Mr Rhodes said.
Mr Rhodes said President Obama had made the decision to increase assistance, including “military support”, to the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and Syrian Opposition Coalition.
He did not give details of the aid, but administration officials have been quoted by US media as saying it will most likely include sending small arms and ammunition.
The New York Times quoted US officials as saying that Washington could provide anti-tank weapons.
Syria’s rebels have been calling for both anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington is also considering a no-fly zone inside Syria, possibly near the border with Jordan, that would protect refugees and rebels who are training there.
When asked whether Mr Obama would back a no-fly zone over Syria, Mr Rhodes said one would not make a “huge difference” on the ground – but would be costly.
He said further actions would be taken “on our own timeline.”
The CIA is expected to co-ordinate delivery of the military equipment and train the rebel soldiers on how to use it.
Until now, the US has limited its help to rebel forces by providing rations and medical supplies.
Mr Rhodes said the White House hoped the increased support would bolster the effectiveness and legitimacy of both the political and military arms of Syria’s rebels, and said the US was “comfortable” working with SMC chief Gen Salim Idris.
“It’s been important to work through them while aiming to isolate some of the more extremist elements of the opposition, such as al-Nusra,” he said.
A senior pro-Kremlin politician in Russia – an ally of Syria – said US claims of the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons were “fabricated”.
Likening it to when the US wrongly claimed Saddam Hussein held chemical weapons in Iraq, Alexei Pushkov, head of lower house of parliament foreign affairs committee, tweeted: “Obama is taking the same path as George Bush.”
The US decision marks a significant escalation of the proxy war that has been gathering pace in Syria, our Beirut correspondent says.
The support of the West’s regional allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, had helped the rebels in the days after the uprising became militarised.
But the tide turned after the Assad government turned to Moscow and Tehran for help. Hezbollah fighters have also been involved in the government’s counter-offensive.
Now the West is lining up to try and help the rebels, but that is likely to take many months with more bloodshed and destruction, our correspondent adds.
UK and French leaders have long argued that President Bashar al-Assad must be made to realise that he cannot secure a military victory against his opponents and must be forced to the negotiating table, according to BBC political editor Nick Robinson.
The White House announcement immediately shook up the ongoing debate in Washington DC over how the US might provide assistance to the rebels.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been particularly strident in their calls for military aid, said the finding must change US policy in Syria. They called for further action, saying US credibility was on the line.
“A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the president will take this urgently needed step,” they said in a joint statement.
“But providing arms alone is not sufficient. The president must rally an international coalition to take military actions to degrade Assad’s ability to use airpower and ballistic missiles and to move and resupply his forces around the battlefield by air.”
A UN report released on Thursday found at least 5,000 people have been dying in Syria every month since last July, with 30,000 killed since November.
More than 80% of those killed were men, but the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it has also documented the deaths of more than 1,700 children under the age of 10.
[Obama takes over the Syrian terrorist operation from the Fat Boar of Doha. Replacing the big oinker with the Qatari piglet is rebranding the "Islamist Crusade" with a less controversial face. This set the stage for today's announcement that the Pentagon will be supplying weapons directly to the Syrian terrorists, much like their previous secret mission to supply the KLA terrorists in Kosovo under Bill Clinton. I guess that Clinton's calling Obama "chicken" was the real motivation for these decisions.
The decision made by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to cede power in Qatar was not a personal decision to be justified by ‘health reasons’ suffered by the man who plays serious roles in recent years, whether at the Arab level or at the international level, Lebanese Assafir daily reported Thursday.
“The decision is an American one, first and foremost, and the Emir had been informed through an exceptional para-military envoy, who is a senior official at the US Central Investigation Agency (CIA),” the newspaper said citing reliable diplomatic sources.
“The decision was studied in the White House and was made after collecting all the information gathered by different apparatuses on the activities of Sheikh Hamad and his foreign minister,” the sources added.
However, the daily noted that activities of Hamad and his Prime minister have exceeded in many cases the limits set by Washington, both in terms of the situation in Syria, or in what related to the support provided by the Emir of Qatar for some Islamic organizations, including those groups which the U.S. intelligence suspects about their relation with Doha via receiving kinds of financial and military support.
Some of those who have had access to the details of US decision summarized the message delivered by the presidential envoy to Sheikh Hamad as follows:
“You have one specific choice, either we impose seizure over your money around the world, or you leave your position for one of your sons that we name to be the ruler after you.”
When the Emir tried to discuss the matter, the special envoy replied:
“I’m not authorized to negotiate with you, but I’ve come to inform you about our decision.”
The available information revealed that the US conditions include the departure of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, the PM and the FM, with his Emir, along with pending all the Qatari investments around the world, except in regions where the US administration decides.
“Any decision regarding various affairs of Qatar should be made in Washington and by Washington,” the diplomatic sources quoted the envoy in his extraordinary message as saying.
Earlier on June 11, The Assafir stated that the power transition process in Qatar will begin at the end of June until the first week of August, in which Emir Hamad bin Khalifa will cede power to his crown prince Tamim.
Arab and Western diplomats in Doha and other countries also noted that the transition process is guaranteed by many Western and Arab countries.
For its part, Reuters news agency stated that two scenarios are highlighted. The first is that crown prince Tamim takes office first as prime minister, while the second is that deputy PM Ahmad Mahmoud occupies the position when Hamad bin Jassim steps down.
Worthy of mentioning that Prince Tamim, 33 years, is the second son of the Emir and the first son of his second wife Mozah Bint al-Masnad.
The British ‘The Daily Telegraph’ newspaper reported Monday that Tamim is closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. His powers have been crystallized when he became responsible for defense and arms affairs.
Qaradawi and other Sunni scholars denounced the deadly crackdown by the Assad’s regime and his Shiite allies as a war on Islam
CAIRO – Prominent Sunni Muslim scholars called Thursday, June 13, for Jihad against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, describing his crackdown on anti-regime protests as a war on Islam.
“Jihad is necessary for the victory of our brothers in Syria,” read a joint statement issued by scholars and read by Egyptian preacher Mohamed Hassan, Reuters reported.
“Jihad with mind, money, weapons; all forms of jihad.”
Scholars from across the Arab world met Thursday in Cairo to discuss ways of helping the anti-Assad opposition in Syria.
They called for using all means to ensure victory of the Syrian opposition forces against Assad.
Hassan said more than 70 organizations represented in the meeting had called for “support, whatever will save the Syrian people”
Leading among attendees in Thursday’s meeting were Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, and Sheikh Hassan al-Shafai, from Al-Azhar.
Earlier this month, Qaradawi called on Sunni Muslims to join opposition forces in their fight against Assad’s regime.
The two-year fighting between Assad’s forces and anti-regime fighters has killed more than 93,000 people.
The fighting has forced more than one million Syrians to flee their home to neighboring countries in addition to the displacement of two millions others inside the country.
War on Islam
The Sunni scholars denounced the deadly crackdown by the Assad’s regime and his Shiite allies as a war on Islam.
“What is happening to our brothers on Syrian soil, in terms of violence stemming from the Iranian regime, Hizbullah and its sectarian allies, counts as a declaration of war on Islam and the Muslim community in general,” Hassan said.
Hizbullah, a close ally of Iran and the Syrian regime, is openly engaged in the fight against the anti-regime forces in Syria.
Hizbullah fighters helped Assad’s forces retake the strategic town of Qusair near Homs on the Lebanese border last week from opponents drawn mostly from Syria’s Sunni majority.
The Lebanese group has already lost dozens of its men in the battle for Qusayr.
Last month, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to propel Assad to victory in Syria’s civil war.
The Shiite leader also pledged that Hizbullah will turn the tide of the conflict in Assad’s favor, and stay as long as necessary to do so.
Hizbullah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict has drawn widespread condemnations from Muslim scholars.
On Tuesday, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb condemned Hizbullah’s support for the Assad’s regime.
Qaradawi also denounced Hizbullah, which means the party of God in Arabic, as the “party of Satan”.
Two months ago, two Salafi scholars in Lebanon have called for Muslims to join the Syrian opposition to fight against Assad’s regime over Hizbullah’s involvement.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has also condemned Hizbullah’s role in the conflict in Syria.
There is no end in sight to the conflict in Syria, which has divided world powers.
Russia and Shiite Iran support Assad, while the United States, along with some European and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab nations back a fractured opposition.
Damascus and some of its opponents have said they will consider peace talks, but no meetings have been arranged.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police say vandals have defaced graves at a Christian cemetery in Tel Aviv.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the words ‘‘price tag’’ were found on Thursday, sprayed on a number of graves in Jaffa, a mixed Arab-Jewish part of the city.
That phrase is usually used by a fringe minority of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies and retaliation for Palestinian attacks.
Rosenfeld says police are searching for the perpetrators.
Vandals have targeted mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases with ‘‘price tag’’ graffiti in recent years.
Thursday’s incident follows one on a Jerusalem church two weeks ago.
We’re dismantling our free society without their having to do another thing.
Illustration: U.S. and terrorism
Photo: Nancy Ohanian, Tribune Media Services
One of my favorite television shows growing up was “M*A*S*H,” starring Alan Alda as army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce. One of the recurrent story lines revolved around Hawkeye pulling practical jokes on his colleagues. In one of my favorite episodes, the rest of the camp is finally fed up. They tell Hawkeye that they have planned for him the greatest practical joke ever. He won’t know how, where or when it will strike, but it will beat every practical joke that he has ever played on them.
Hawkeye at first dismisses the thought that anyone could outprank the master. But a few days pass, and nothing happens. He begins to worry and starts staying up all night keeping watch. Eventually he becomes paranoid to the point that he digs a moat around his tent and sits guard holding a golf club and frying pan as protection.
Several more days pass, and still no prank. At this point, the prank is revealed. The prank to beat all pranks is that there is no prank — apart from how Hawkeye became completely unglued because he thought a prank was coming.
This is how we have responded to the terrorist threat. The attacks on 9/11 and other more recent terrorist attacks were horrible, to be sure. But our response to the terror threat has been even more damaging to our country.
We allow the government to monitor our phone, e-mail and credit card info without a second thought. We submit to useless strip searches at airports. We mindlessly take off our shoes and turn in bottles of shampoo before we can board a plane. We don’t care that our Internet and social-media use can be monitored by the government in the name of stopping terrorism — while that information can be used to suppress political ideas using other government departments such as the IRS.
Our attorney general tells Congress that he has no knowledge of unlawful searches of reporters’ records when in fact he personally signed off on the warrants. Our president refuses to acknowledge terror attacks for what they are and covers up our failures to prevent them. The Constitution and Bill of Rights become more irrelevant every day, and no one cares.
The terrorists don’t need to plan any new dramatic attacks when they can just sit back and watch us disregard the principles on which this great country was founded and laugh as we destroy ourselves. We are becoming Hawkeye Pierce, sitting sleepless and unshaven in our moat with kitchen utensils and golf clubs, waiting for an attack that doesn’t need to come.
The damage we are doing to ourselves is much more dangerous than any terrorist with a trunk full of explosives. We must stop this before it is too late.
The events surrounding whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA analyst and until a few days ago a Booz Allen Hamilton employee, have an element of tragedy as well as farce.
The tragedy comes from the witch-hunt that is being used to cover up the news that US security agencies have been gathering data about us from the big technology firms for years.
The farce is that this is not news. The desires of US spooks to know too much about us and the dubious morality of Google, Microsoft, Apple and others were already well documented.
The story actually begins in 2002, when America’s security agencies established the Information Awareness Office. This was created in order to build a massive database about everyone, to store e-mails, financial transactions, medical records and information about our social networks. It was to be used to identify suspicious activity, unhealthy relationships and threats.
The office was shut down after 18 months because of privacy fears. But many of its projects continued to receive funding, the big computer needed to analyse all the data is almost finished and what it set out to do has largely been achieved. America’s National Security Agency’s (NSA) US$2 billion data-storage facility in Utah will open soon and it will have the capacity to store and process yottabytes for decades to come.
Helpfully, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and all the others have collected all the information that the Information Awareness Office originally wanted to fuel this computer, and much more effectively than first envisaged.
Rather than the NSA needing wire-taps and warrants, these companies have persuaded us to give the information the authorities wanted voluntarily. We have told them all about our habits, views and relationships. We have explained to them in great detail what we like and what we fear. And we have even downloaded little apps to show them our location and the identities of those around us, thinking these useful, not troubling.
And we have done this despite knowing that the companies collecting this information are morally suspect. Intel, Google and Microsoft have all been fined for anticompetitive behaviour, while Apple and Skype have been investigated for it.
Google got caught getting around the privacy settings on its own browser and illegally collected internet access points with its Street View car. It then failed to delete the information despite repeated assurances that it would.
Google’s search engine tracks your interests and filters future results depending on your previous searches. YouTube, which Google owns, tracks your taste in videos and music. Street View, Google Earth and Google Maps show where you live and where you go. Picasa, Google’s photo-sharing website, uses facial-recognition software to identify you and your friends.
It seems almost laughable to think that Google was doing this just so that it could sell us more stuff. Now it is clear that there were other, much more sinister, motives lurking somewhere in the background.
Most troubling of all, there is scant evidence that this massive effort to spy on us is making us any safer. The number of deaths caused by terrorist acts in most of the world in the past 12 years is minuscule compared to those caused by heart disease, road accidents and even childbirth.
Instead of being distracted by the hounding of Snowden, we should be asking ourselves why these companies and the American government are invading our privacy like this. And we should first stop helping them do it.
Graeme Maxton is an author who also once worked for Booz Allen Hamilton
Associated Press in San Francisco
Before there was Edward Snowden and the leak of explosive documents showing widespread government surveillance, there was Mark Klein – a telecommunications technician who alleged that AT&T was allowing US spies to siphon vast amounts of customer data without warrants.
Klein’s allegations and the news reports about them launched dozens of consumer lawsuits in early 2006 against the government and telecommunications companies. The lawsuits alleged invasion of privacy and targeted the very same provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that are at the centre of the latest public outcry.
That was seven years ago, and the warrantless collection continues, perhaps on an even greater scale, underscoring just how difficult it will be for the recently outraged in pursuing any new lawsuits, like the one the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the government on Tuesday in New York federal court.
“I warned whoever I could,” Klein said in telephone interview from his home in Alameda, a city across the bay from San Francisco. “I was angry then. I’m angrier now.”
All the lawsuits prompted by Klein’s disclosures were bundled up and shipped to a single San Francisco federal judge to handle. Nearly all the cases were tossed out when Congress in 2008 granted the telecommunications retroactive immunity from legal challenges, a law the US Supreme Court upheld. Congress’ action will make it difficult to sue the companies caught up in the latest disclosures.
The only lawsuit left from that bundle is one aimed directly at the government. And that case has been tied up in litigation over the US Justice Department’s insistence that airing the case in court would jeopardise national security.
“The United States government under both administrations has been stonewalling us in court,” said Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents the consumers who filed that lawsuit. EFF has also filed a related lawsuit seeking the Justice Department’s legal interpretation of the law that the government is apparently relying on to collect consumers’ electronic data without a warrant.
James Clapper, director of national intelligence, personally urged US District Judge Jeffrey White to throw out the remaining lawsuit. Clapper wrote to the judge in September that the government risks “exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States” if forced to fight the lawsuit.
But on Friday, federal prosecutors asked the judge to delay making any decision until it can report back to the court on July 12 what the latest disclosures may mean to the lawsuit. Tien and other EFF lawyers are also assessing the newest disclosures to determine if they bolster their case.
Snowden, 29, a former CIA employee who most recently worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency, admitted leaking details of two secret government surveillance programmes.
He revealed a top-secret court order issued April 25 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that granted a three-month renewal for the large-scale collection of American phone records. That programme, the same one Klein tried to expose, allows the NSA to gather hundreds of millions of US phone records to search for possible links to terrorists abroad.
Snowden also disclosed another programme that allows the government to tap into nine US internet companies and gather all communications to detect suspicious behaviour that begins overseas.
On Tuesday, Klein said that for a number of reasons, Snowden’s disclosures sparked more public outrage than his own revelations did more than seven years ago.
For one thing, Klein said, Snowden had direct access to a secret court order and details of the programme, while Klein pieced together the government’s surveillance through internal AT&T documents and in discussions with colleagues who worked on the project.
“The government painted me as a nobody, a technician who was merely speculating,” said Klein, who made his disclosures after he accepted a buyout and retired from AT&T in 2004. “Now we have an actual copy of a FISA court order. There it is in black and white. It’s undisputable. They can’t deny that.”
Klein also said the allegations that the government was accessing social media sites such as Facebook may have gotten the attention of more – and younger – people who weren’t bothered by his initial disclosures.
“Now, the government is intruding in places they go,” said Klein, 68. “That probably got their attention.”
WASHINGTON: The US spy chief in charge of a leaked program to gather and analyse Internet and phone data defended the intelligence tactic Wednesday, insisting it had helped thwart dozens of terror attacks.
Facing sceptical questions from lawmakers after a rogue technician revealed the secret operation, National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander insisted it operates under proper legislative and judicial oversight.
“It’s classified but it’s dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent,” he told the hearing, the first time he had been questioned in public since 29-year-old former contractor Edward Snowden spilled the beans.
“I want the American people to know that we’re being transparent in here,” he insisted, warning that “the trust of the American people” was a “sacred requirement” if his agency was to be able to do its job.
Asked if the light shone on the programs could help terrorists avoid surveillance, Alexander said: “They will get through, and Americans will die.”
“Great harm has already been done by opening this up. The consequence I believe is our security has been jeopardised,” he warned.
Snowden, a technician seconded by a private contractor to an NSA base in Hawaii, disappeared last month after downloading a cache of secret documents and surfaced over the weekend in Hong Kong to give media interviews.
He embarrassed and infuriated President Barack Obama’s administration by revealing that the NSA had gathered call log records for millions of American phone subscribers and targeted the Internet data of foreign Web users.
The leaks triggered a row over privacy and the limits of executive power in the digital age, as Snowden said had been his intention, but also calls for the leaker to be arrested and sent home to face trial.
Snowden told Hong Kong daily the South China Morning Post that he would resist any attempt to extradite him, and accused the NSA of carrying out tens of thousands of hacking attacks worldwide.
Chinese media had remained relatively quiet on the issue, but the China Daily said Thursday that news of the US program “is certain to stain Washington’s overseas image and test developing Sino-US ties.”
“How the case is handled could pose a challenge to the burgeoning goodwill between Beijing and Washington given that Snowden is in Chinese territory and the Sino-US relationship is constantly soured on cybersecurity,” the government-owned newspaper said.
Many people hail Snowden as a whistleblower who carried out an act of civil disobedience to expose US government overreach and defend the privacy of innocent Web users.
Others, including US spy chiefs and some senior lawmakers, say Snowden a traitor who sold out a system that serves to protect Americans.
Alexander said he had “grave concerns” about how Snowden was able to gain access to critical classified information with a limited education and not much work experience, noting: “We do have to go back and look at these processes.”
Several investigations are underway and the leaker may yet face criminal charges, but in the meantime, debate is raging about the legality and utility of the NSA’s broad-brush approach to sweeping up private data.
“How do we get from reasonable grounds… to all phone records, all the time, all locations?” asked Senator Jeff Merkley, a longtime opponent of giving the government broad secret surveillance powers.
Holding up his own phone, he asked Alexander: “What authority gave you the grounds for acquiring my cell phone data?”
Alexander repeated the administration’s defence that, while the NSA did gather large quantities of telephone metadata, it could not mine the logs to target a specific user without an order from a secret court.
“We do not see a trade-off between security and liberty,” he said, insisting that the NSA and US Cyber Command are “deeply committed to compliance with the law and the protection of privacy rights.”
“I do think what we’re doing does protect American civil liberties and privacy,” he protested, claiming he welcomed the “debate” sparked by the leaks.
Senator Mark Udall expressed scepticism at this nod to openness.
“It’s very, very difficult, I think, to have a transparent debate about a secret program written by a secret court, issuing secret court orders based on secret interpretations of the law,” he said.
In Hong Kong, Snowden was unrepentant.
“I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American,” he said.
Snowden told the South China Morning Post there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, targeting powerful “network backbones” that can yield access to hundreds of thousands of individual computers.
There were hundreds of targets in mainland China and Hong Kong, he was quoted as saying, alleging this exposed “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure.”
Snowden accused the US government of “trying to bully” Hong Kong into expelling him before he can reveal details of alleged NSA snooping on communications inside the Chinese financial and trading hub.
But he pledged to resist any extradition attempt.
“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the US government in the courts, because I have faith in HK’s rule of law,” he said, according to the paper.
by Josh Feldman
Republican congressman Mike Pompeo took to the House floor Tuesday afternoon to call on Islamic leaders in the United States to be more outspoken in their condemnation of terrorist attacks on American soil. During a speech that was flagged by ThinkProgress, he cited Fort Hood, the Times Square bomber, and the underwear bomber as just a few examples, accusing American Islamic leaders of being silent when such terrorist attacks occur. Pompeo declared that by being silent, these leaders make themselves “potentially complicit in these acts.
Pompeo said that many modern clerics consider jihad to be non-violent, and cited an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cleric who said that suiciding bombers were “heroic” martyrs. He demanded that Muslim leaders make it unequivocally clear to the masses that “there is never any justification for terrorism.”
Pompeo continued to argue that their silence on this issue means they are partly to blame when these terrorist attacks occur.
“Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts, and more importantly still, in those that may well follow… Every Muslim leader must unequivocally proclaim that terror committed in the name of Islam violates the core tenets of the Prophet Mohammed, and they must do so repeatedly. Period.”
“What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.”
So we refused to be part of the NSA’s dark blanket. That is why whistleblowers pay the price for being the backstop of democracy
What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.
Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution.
The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. In the first week of October, I had an extraordinary conversation with NSA’s lead attorney. When I pressed hard about the unconstitutionality of Stellar Wind, he said:
“The White House has approved the program; it’s all legal. NSA is the executive agent.”
It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. “You don’t understand,” I was told. “We just need the data.”
In the first week of October 2001, President Bush had signed an extraordinary order authorizing blanket dragnet electronic surveillance: Stellar Wind was a highly secret program that, without warrant or any approval from the Fisa court, gave the NSA access to all phone records from the major telephone companies, including US-to-US calls. It correlates precisely with the Verizon order revealed by Snowden; and based on what we know, you have to assume that there are standing orders for the other major telephone companies.
It is technically true that the order applies only to meta-data. The problem is that in the digital space, metadata becomes the index for content. And content is gold for determining intent.
This executive fiat of 2001 violated not just the fourth amendment, but also Fisa rules at the time, which made it a felony – carrying a penalty of $10,000 and five years in prison for each and every instance. The supposed oversight, combined with enabling legislation – the Fisa court, the congressional committees – is all a kabuki dance, predicated on the national security claim that we need to find a threat. The reality is, they just want it all, period.
So I was there at the very nascent stages, when the government – wilfully and in deepest secrecy – subverted the constitution. All you need to know about so-called oversight is that the NSA was already in violation of the Patriot Act by the time it was signed into law.
When I was in the US air force, flying an RC-135 in the latter years of the cold war, I was a German-Russian crypto-linguist. We called ourselves the “vacuum-cleaner of the sky” because our capability to gather information was enormous at the time. But it was always outward-facing; we could not collect on US targets because that was against the law. To the US government today, however, we are all foreigners.
I became an expert on East Germany, which was then the ultimate surveillance state. Their secret police were monstrously efficient: they had a huge paper-based system that held information on virtually everyone in the country – a population of about 16-17 million. The Stasi’s motto was “to know everything”.
So none of this is new to me. The difference between what the Bush administration was doing in 2001, right after 9/11, and what the Obama administration is doing today is that the system is now under the cover and color of law. Yet, what Snowden has revealed is still the tip of the iceberg.
General Michael Hayden, who was head of the NSA when I worked there, and then director of the CIA, said, “We need to own the net.” And that is what they’re implementing here. They have this extraordinary system: in effect, a 24/7 panopticon on a vast scale that it is gazing at you with an all-seeing eye.
I lived with that dirty knowledge for years. Before 9/11, the prime directive at the NSA was that you don’t spy on Americans without a warrant; to do so was against the law – and, in particular, was a criminal violation of Fisa. My concern was that we were more than an accessory; this was a crime and we were subverting the constitution.
I differed as a whistleblower to Snowden only in this respect: in accordance with the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, I took my concerns up within the chain of command, to the very highest levels at the NSA, and then to Congress and the Department of Defense. I understand why Snowden has taken his course of action, because he’s been following this for years: he’s seen what’s happened to other whistleblowers like me.
By following protocol, you get flagged – just for raising issues. You’re identified as someone they don’t like, someone not to be trusted. I was exposed early on because I was a material witness for two 9/11 congressional investigations. In closed testimony, I told them everything I knew – about Stellar Wind, billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse, and the critical intelligence, which the NSA had but did not disclose to other agencies, preventing vital action against known threats. If that intelligence had been shared, it may very well have prevented 9/11.
But as I found out later, none of the material evidence I disclosed went into the official record. It became a state secret even to give information of this kind to the 9/11 investigation.
I reached a point in early 2006 when I decided I would contact a reporter. I had the same level of security clearance as Snowden. If you look at the indictment from 2010, you can see that I was accused of causing “exceptionally grave damage to US national security“. Despite allegations that I had tippy-top-secret documents, In fact, I had no classified information in my possession, and I disclosed none to the Baltimore Sun journalist during 2006 and 2007. But I got hammered: in November 2007, I was raided by a dozen armed FBI agents, when I was served with a search warrant. The nightmare had only just begun, including extensive physical and electronic surveillance.
In April 2008, in a secret meeting with the FBI, the chief prosecutor from the Department of Justice assigned to lead the prosecution said, “How would you like to spend the rest of your life in jail, Mr Drake?” – unless I co-operated with their multi-year, multimillion-dollar criminal leak investigation, launched in 2005 after the explosive New York Times article revealing for the first time the warrantless wiretapping operation. Two years later, they finally charged me with a ten felony count indictment, including five counts under the Espionage Act. I faced upwards of 35 years in prison.
In July 2011, after the government’s case had collapsed under the weight of truth, I plead to a minor misdemeanor for “exceeding authorized use of a computer” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – in exchange for the DOJ dropping all ten felony counts. I received as a sentence one year’s probation and 240 hours of community service: I interviewed almost 50 veterans for the Library of Congress veterans history project. This was a rare, almost unprecedented, case of a government prosecution of a whistleblower ending in total defeat and failure.
So, the stakes for whistleblowers are incredibly high. The government has got its knives out: there’s a massive manhunt for Snowden. They will use all their resources to hunt him down and every detail of his life will be turned inside out. They’ll do everything they can to “bring him to justice” – already there are calls for the “traitor” to be “put away for life”.
He can expect the worst; he knows that. He went preemptively overseas because that at least delays the prying hand of the US government. But he could be extracted by rendition, as he has said. Certainly, my life was shredded. Once they have determined that you are a “person of interest” and an “enemy of the state”, they want to destroy you, period.
I am now reliving the last 12 years from what’s been dislosed in the past week. I feel a kinship with Snowden: he is essentially the equivalent of me. He saw the surveillance state from within and saw how far it’s gone. The government has a pathological incentive to collect more and more and more; they just can’t help themselves – they have an insatiable hoarding complex.
Since the government unchained itself from the constitution after 9/11, it has been eating our democracy alive from the inside out. There’s no room in a democracy for this kind of secrecy: it’s anathema to our form of a constitutional republic, which was born out of the struggle to free ourselves from the abuse of such powers, which led to the American revolution.
That is what’s at stake here: to an NSA with these unwarranted powers, we’re all potentially guilty; we’re all potential suspects until we prove otherwise. That is what happens when the government has all the data.
The NSA is wiring the world; they want to own internet. I didn’t want to be part of the dark blanket that covers the world, and Edward Snowden didn’t either.
We are seeing an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and truth-tellers: it’s now criminal to expose the crimes of the state. Under this relentless assault by the Obama administration, I am the only person who has held them off and preserved his freedom. All the other whistleblowers I know have served time in jail, are facing jail or are already incarcerated or in prison.
That has been my burden. I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to defending life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I didn’t want surveillance to take away my soul, and I don’t want anyone else to have to live it.
For that, I paid a very high price. And Edward Snowden will, too. But I have my freedom, and what is the price for freedom? What future do we want to keep?
A German author of Egyptian origin has gone into hiding after having recieved death threats from Islamists. Hamed Abdel-Samad is one of Germany’s highest-profile experts on Islam.
The news of the death threats against Abdel-Samad was announced by his publisher on Tuesday.
“Hamed Abdel-Samad is taking the call for him to be murdered seriously and has gone into hiding,” the head of the Munich-based Droemer Knaur publishing house, Margit Ketterle, said in a statement.
The calls for the author to be killed apparently came after a speech he gave in Cairo last week in which he criticized radical Islam and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, accusing them of spreading “religious fascism.”
Abdel-Sadam reportedly also said he did not intend to insult Islam but had a right to express his views.
Shortly after his speech Assem Abdel Maged, a leading member of the radical Egyptian group Gamaa Islamiya, used a television appearance to declare Abdel-Samad an “infidel.”
Numerous Islamist web sites subsequently published a picture of the author with the words “wanted dead” written above.
“We are shocked by the persecution of our author and support him as much as we can,” said Ketterle, who spoke of a “smear campaign that came directly from the sphere of the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi.”
She also said Abdel-Samad stood for “critical education,” not only in Germany.
The German government’s human rights commissioner, Markus Löning also expressed shock at the news, saying there was “nothing to justify” such death threats.
“I expect the Egyptian government to clearly and unequivocally distance itself from [the threats],” Löning said. He also called on the government in Cairo to ensure his safety.
The 41-year-old Abdel-Samad was born in Egypt but moved to Germany at the age of 23. The political scientist who now holds German citizenship has published several books critical of Islam. In 2010 he became known to a broader audience when he featured in a five part television series in which he joined Polish-born German-Jewish journalist Henryk Broder on a road trip through Germany.
pfd/dr (dpa, AFP)
Artists’ protest at the culture ministry faced opposition from members of Islamist groups who chanted in support of the minister
A protest by artists outside the culture ministry in Cairo’s Zamalek district was met by angry opposition from groups of Islamists on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, members of Islamist parties announced they would be going to a protest currently being held by disgruntled artists and intellectuals at the culture ministry, to force the protesters to leave.
The protesting artists called for supporters to join them, and police forces at the protest increased in number in anticipation of possible clashes.
The artists gathered outside the ministry, which they broke into to “occupy” on Wednesday, chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood and singing songs by Egyptian revolutionary icons such as Sheikh Imam.
They were opposed by angry demonstrators from the Freedom and Justice Party and the Building and Development Party, the political arm of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya group, who chanted: “Clean up [the ministry], clean up, minister.”
Minor scuffles occurred between the two sides, resulting in the injury of a policeman. However, the situation was contained and the Islamists left the scene without further incident.
A dictator rejects the idea of limits to his power. Who needs a Congress, when you have wars to fake?
[Here is one of my favorite articles, an overlooked blast from the past (1/28/2008), published first on Rense.com, before NoSunglasses was created.]
By: Peter Chamberlin
Perhaps one day we shall know the truth about being, and being alive on planet earth, whether life on every living planet is as messed-up as it is here. Earth’s problems must be unique, as they are of man’s own creation, man-made disasters caused by ambitious men who are allowed to rise to the top, where they dominate us for self-gain. We allow our leaders to take the positions of power that they desire, instead of actually choosing who shall lead us. Humans tend to submit to those who claim authority, since it is easier to believe in symbols of power, than it is to personally submit to the tedium of the reasoning process. As a people, we tend to follow the natural order of things along the path of least resistance. By taking the easy way out, we give our blessing to the law of the jungle.
It is natural for societies to become dominated by powerful elites, who gain control of the inner workings of government and commerce, in order to bend them both to their will. “Meritocracy” and other forms of “social Darwinism,” describe the belief that “success” by this definition justifies the survival of the fittest capitalism (globalism) that has decimated the world. The brutal belief system widely promoted as “neoconservatism” is behind the fascist agenda that emerged from the bowels of corporate-owned “think tanks.” These elitist thinkers believe that it is necessary for our government to “cull” the “useless eaters” from the face of the earth, through forced population reduction and perpetual war. They are the true radicals, possessed by “extremist belief systems.” Their plans for us are the end program of a centuries-old class war between the elitist self-proclaimed neo-aristocrats, who would be masters of mankind and the rest of the human race. The neocons are nothing new, just the latest, most-concentrated form of this egotistical brand of pure evil.
If the elitist “one-worlders” were correct about being the “natural leaders” of the world, dedicated to saving the most noble of mankind from the excesses of the dirty masses, then their cold-blooded plans might be justified by the results, by anyone who survived them. The plan is to kill-off a significant portion of the earth’s “dead weight,” keep another segment as a labor force and extend their own lives through genetic and eugenic research. They are not being all that secretive about this research, only about where it all is meant to lead us. If the idea of rich men carrying-out a plot to kill-off billions of poor people isn’t enough to motivate the masses into torch-carrying mobs, I can’t imagine what would be enough.
People with any conscience at all can see the obvious evil inherent in the selective use of genocide as an element of state policy, for the purpose of eliminating entire populations that are in our way, and thereby terrorizing others into submission with our killing power and basic lack of morality. It is unconscionable that a “civilized” nation would seek to force its will upon other nations by terrorizing them into submission under fear of certain death. This is an abomination upon the American spirit, equal to the abomination in which this spirit was founded, when we wiped-out the first Americans, in claiming our parasitic “manifest destiny.”
The fact that genocide is an acceptable form of warfare is testimony about the many evils which we have learned to accept. The collective conscience of the human race and the mind of God demand that we act to make genocide unacceptable, once again. Ideas cannot fight against raw power, unless they become a shared idea, driving a political momentum. We have to make our countrymen see the reality beyond the illusions of the nightly dream-weavers and the patriotic drum-beaters.
The people of the United States must be made to understand that, more than ever, genocide is government policy, before they will rise-up in righteous indignation to it. It is a clear-cut case of “good – vs. – evil,” with the evil being the world’s number one source of state terrorism, the government of the United States of America. The American people can only save themselves if they are made aware of the fact that they are under attack by those who claim to be their trusted leaders. Likewise, all the people of the earth are under attack by their own governments, who serve as American representatives, to help conquer the earth and corrupt all life. The people of every nation must rise-up and become their own governments, the only truly democratic government.
In opposition to the leadership of the elite, which stands leeringly over the dying American corpse, there is another leadership rising-up, the researchers and writers who are exposing and resisting the corrupted power structure. We are those who would dig beneath the official lies to expose the bloody roots of corruption that support all that is hostile to human life. We are the voluntary citizens’ press corps, dedicated to taking up the task of reporting on government deceptions, a job that the mainstream media has forsaken. One day, when freedom prevails, the alternative media will replace the sell-outs and the official lie-passers of the nightly news. But, until that blessed day, researchers like Prof. Michel Chossudovsky will keep turning-up the soil for us, exposing the inner workings of our criminal government. His important research on the roots of the Islamic Militant Network and its CIA origins has blown the lid off the most important story of the Twenty-first Century. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7718
The names and keywords that other researchers have associated with the genocidal plans of the elite are too numerous to list or remember here, yet to do so would weave a sordid tale of interconnections and plots that clearly intersect in complicated patterns. By listing the elements of the octopus, we lay-out the proof of an elitist conspiracy for the few who care enough to open their eyes. But, in order to reach the distracted and pre-occupied majority, we must stick to single key issues like the “Global 2000” report, to tell the genocidal plans of our government, while secret war plans like “Operation North Woods,” demonstrate just how far they are willing to go to start wars, the key to the war on terror.
The case proving government complicity in the 9/11 attacks which initiated the war on terrorism is becoming stronger every day. In addition to all the forensic evidence from the attacks and the unbelievable string of “coincidences” that made the attacks possible, we now know that Islamist terrorists, “associated with al Qaida” have been key elements of US foreign policy up until, and including, the time of the Trade Center attack. We have begun to understand the depth of US/CIA involvement in the destabilizing of a dozen or more countries with these highly-trained Islamic “insurgencies.” This criminal foreign policy of creating radical Islamic militias for the purpose of starting wars in nations now at peace creates ever-expanding bands of Islamic uprisings throughout the Middle East and southeast Asia, justifying genocidal counter-attacks as “fighting terrorism.”
The US is following the time-tested strategy developed by the Israelis (who first implemented it as a double-edged sword for waging war to thin-out the Muslims, while increasing the number of Islamists gradually) to justify greater and greater waves of ethnic repression. For, if you plan to one day force an entire population out of their ancient homeland, in order to colonize it, you will first need to rationalize a massive wave of state terrorism that will be needed for the task. For this, you will need an army of credibly bloodthirsty Islamists, to justify the monstrous offensives into civilian populations. This is why Israel created Hamas and the US and Israel created al Qaida.
Our government and many of our people have whole-heartedly embraced Israel’s implementation of ethnic cleansing policies in Gaza and Lebanon, seeing them as dress rehearsals for our own genocidal plans against other innocent Muslims around the world.
The barbaric acts committed by Israel against the captive Gaza population are not the acts of moral people. Every act of repression, every secret move to limit the rights of Arabs, is intended to provoke reactions from the mostly defenseless people, in order to justify counter-reactions from the world’s fifth most powerful military force. For Israel to “save face” in its international PR campaign, images of terrorists must be created to defend against. If Palestinians do not attempt to defend themselves with primitive weapons, then the Zionist oppressors will be hard-pressed to justify targeted assassinations and other brutal tactics meant to drive them from their homes. Palestinians, like Americans and all other targeted populations must follow the scripts that have been written for them and rise-up in defiant acts of self-defense, so that all the complainers can be bombed into bloody submission. The only difference between modern American/Israeli fascism and classic Nazism is the modern capability to control all information and suppress the truth.
The scale of the intentional suffering being inflicted by supposedly moral human beings, who consider themselves superior to their victims, is unimaginable. What is even more unimaginable is the international spectacle of other supposedly moral nations fawning over the killers, each nation trying harder than the next to suck-up to those who are starving helpless children, depriving them of medicine, and mowing them down with cannon and machine gun fire, in order to wipe them from their land and erase them from the “pages of time.” The international horror shows of “diplomacy” and “humanitarianism” are shams, meant to seduce the masses into reveling in the bloodlust that is scheduled to head in their direction. “Negotiations” with pseudo-humanitarians like Bush, Olmert and Cheney can be nothing more than discussing terms of surrender. One day soon, the entire earth will rise-up against this axis of evil. Our actions today will determine if the people of America stand with the rest of the world against our own government, or if we will continue in our surrender to the beasts of the modern jungle, who intend to devour everything we hold dear.
The earth is standing at the edge of a dark precipice; on the other side is the greatest epic in mankind’s history, waiting to be written, waiting for those of us who dare to take up the pen and to fight the darkness of the lies. An army of freedom-writers, who are as dedicated to defending life as the enemies of life are dedicated to ending it, can bring forth a new sustaining vision of life. We must first choose to place our own freedom in jeopardy, by stepping forward to stop those who would take us into the void in a vain gamble to crush most of the earth’s life for the sake of greater “profit.”
It is time for all of God’s children to take a stand together. It is time to end the American nightmare (formerly known as the American dream).
[If this isn't grounds for a full-blown revolution in Pakistan, then what is? This is what life in America would be like if the self-appoint American "Aristocracy" had their way.]
ISLAMABAD: In a startling disclosure before a Senate committee, the chief executive of Islamabad Electricity Supply Company on Monday said there was no load-shedding at the Presidency, Prime Minister House, Supreme Court, GHQ, headquarters of ISI, National Accountability Bureau and National Database and Registration Authority and the Judges Colony. The disclosure comes at a time when the country is facing worst load-shedding ranging from 12-20 hours a day.
Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) chief Yousuf Awan who was summoned by the Senate Standing Committee on Power to describe the reasons for load-shedding spilled the beans when the committee’s chairman, Senator Zahid Khan, asked him to name government offices which were exempt from load-shedding.
As temperatures across the country continue to rise over 40 degrees, the disclosure by the IESCO chief had drawn severe criticism from the Senate committee.
“I am utterly disgusted that a common man is facing up to 21 hours of load-shedding while the president, prime minister, generals and judges were facing no load-shedding even though they can afford to keep generators,” Khan said in his remarks.
Khan added that exemption should only be afforded to hospitals and centres managing healthcare.
He threatened to resign in case the practice was not interrupted and government offices and residences were not treated as the rest of the country.
The committee chairman directed the officials to bring an end to the discrimination within 24 hours and report back to the committee on their progress.
The committee also summoned the minister and secretary for water and power to explain why government offices and residences of government functionaries were not undergoing load-shedding as the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, protests against excessive load-shedding in Faisalabad and Khanewal continued.
The country is facing a shortfall of over 4,500 megawatts of power resulting in unprecedented load-shedding. Since taking over, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to address the concerns on power crisis and has dubbed the issue as one to be dealt with as a matter of priority. The first cabinet meeting of the new government is also taking place to take stock of the energy crisis.
WASHINGTON – A century ago, Rudyard Kipling, the imperialist British author of “Kim” and “Gunga Din,” wrote a futurist piece called “As Easy as A.B.C.” for Aerial Board of Control. Inspired by the embryonic stirrings of radio and flight, Kipling gave his readers a world governed through drones, or flying saucers.
In Chicago, for example, a revolt was crushed by the A.B.C.’s airborne blasts of blinding light and unbearable sound.
Two decades later, H.G. Wells, in “Things to Come,” invented a Dictatorship of the Air, a post-apocalyptic place where the ruling survivors were those who controlled air transportation and radio systems. It was a utopian regime, where nations and religions were outlawed, where dissidents were advised to kill themselves.
The core theme is the same in Wells, in Kipling and in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and George Orwell’s “1984.” A secretive ruling elite manages frightened populations through mastery of the tools of snooping.
These authors were not just trying to entertain us. They warned us. Yet few in this country, probably not even Sen. Barack H. Obama of Chicago, could have predicted in 2008 where we are now. With even the Supreme Court ordaining that police can force open the mouth of a criminal suspect and swab away the keys to a person’s genetic code, and warehouse it and share it with whomever the cops wish.
With the revelations of recent months, it must be faced that the tools and political systems now exist for ever-encroaching control by the state over the individual. The individual: Remember me? I own my own body; whom I donate to; my home is my castle; where I go; what I watch on my computer; how I drive a car; and whom I text in private; my health details are none of the state’s business.
Suddenly, all of this is becoming the state’s business. It is tracked at your great expense. How and when the state does it is none of your business. President Obama’s heralded “transparency” is abruptly about you, not the state. The president, his attorney general and the most important names in Congress are either mute or defending it.
Obama inherited the Patriot Act, and the technical gear from the Bush-Cheney administration. Yet it is under this president, supposedly steeped in the Constitution, that it has reached an unlooked-for level, maintaining it will spy on any American it wants to. Describing the secret partnerships between Web firms like Google and the National Security Agency, the regime’s main electronic spy combine, an unnamed intelligence officer told the Washington Post that the NSA “quite literally can watch you form your ideas as you type.”
The Obama administration has pursued more whistle-blowers under a century-old law than all past administrations combined. It is sweeping telephone lists, and smartphone GPS data, tapping reporters’ phones, criminalizing reporters’ questions and warehousing search engine transactions. Obama said blithely, “We can have a conversation about this.” In the words of SNL’s Church Lady, “Isn’t that special!” Joe and Jane Sixpack can’t do much about it.
The permanent Senate and House incumbency is in charge. These legislators worry more about getting millions from donors of the military-industrial complex than about your rights. Conservative fixer Karl Rove said the spying is needed to “keep the nation safe.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., agrees.
In Britain, 120-plus of the world’s most powerful leaders – including former Clinton and Obama officials, publishers and the heads of Google and Goldman Sachs – are at a secretive meeting called Bilderberg planning your future. Topping the agenda is a seminar on worldwide data mining.