Palestinians scoff at Kerry

“Kerry’s efforts ‘benefit the Zionist occupation and its schemes in Jerusalem and liquidates the cause of the refugees by settling them in Australia and other countries.‘”

[Kerry is trying to pull-off some dialectic diplomatic “ju-jitsu,” figuratively turning himself into Netanyahu, then effectively turning his new self inside-out.  If you measure his efforts by the results that he may eventually produce, forgetting about how things might appear now, then you see that Kerry is trying to give the Zionists everything they want through a simple lawyerly deal, which seems to give the Palestinians everything they need (even their own country).  If the Palestinian Arabs will only accept a “land for peace” deal, perhaps one which they had not ever imagined, then “Palestine” can become an instantly realized Nation. 

This “New Palestine” would begin life as a high-priority protectorate of the United Nations, provided with all of the land, money, international support, military protection and civil assistance needed to build Palestine and to improve the lives of the Palestinian people, if only they will agree to Kerry’s deal, even if that meant that “New Palestine” had to be built somewhere else, such as Australia, or Jordan. 

If Kerry is really offering to buy a big piece of the Australian outback for the Palestinian people, then that would represent a warped mirror image of the original Zionist proposal for a “New Palestine,” which was to be built for the German Jews in East Africa.  This perfectly serious proposal was submitted to Kaiser Wilhelm by Herzl, the “father of Zionism,”  (SEE:  Herzl, The Jewish State).] 

Palestinians scoff at Kerry

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What was supposed to be a nine-month peace talks process between Israel and the Palestinians under US stewardship appears to have all but failed.

Ahmed Al-Sayed– Gaza.

Palestinians scoff at Kerry
Kerry in Tel Aviv (photo: Reuters)

“We are now at a point where the choices narrow down and the choices are obviously real and difficult,” this is how US Secretary of State John Kerry described the outcome of his 10th round of talks with the Palestinians and Israelis.

Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis resumed last July, following a three-year hiatus because of Israel’s settlement activities.

Initially, officials were hoping to reach a conclusion within nine months, but now it seems that the talks will last for much longer.

The talks failed to make much headway, as Kerry’s bundle of proposals, which he called a “framework”, was deemed too biased to the Israelis.

During four days of shuttle diplomacy that saw Kerry meeting Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Saudis, the top US diplomat strove to come up with a final settlement deal addressing the whole gamut of outstanding issues, including borders, security, Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees.

Kerry speaks of his plan in sanguine terms, calling it “fair” and “balanced”. But the Palestinians say that the plan undermines their basic rights.

Not only does Kerry ask the Palestinians to recognise the “Jewishness of Israel”, but also his plans allow the Israelis to maintain presence on the Palestinian-Jordanian borders.

Kerry’s ideas for land swaps and for shared control of Jerusalem were also dismissed as unfair by Palestinians from across the political divide.

Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil commented on Kerry’s plan by saying, “This is a cursed plan that aims to liquidate the Palestinian issue and undermine basic Palestinian rights regarding Jerusalem, land, and refugees.”

According to Al-Bardawil, Kerry’s plan aims in particular to eliminate the most important component in Palestinian rights: the right of six million Palestinian refugees to go home.

“Kerry wants also to settle the Jerusalem question by placing it practically under Zionist control, despite claims that the Jordanians will have control of some holy places, and even Palestinian land,” Al-Bardawil stated.

Kerry’s plan would confer legality on Israeli settlements and allow settlers the right to have dual Israeli and Palestinian nationality, Al-Bardawil argued.

Meanwhile, the same plan opens the way for the displacement of “1948 Palestinians” (Arabs who are now citizens of Israel), he added.

According to Palestinian sources, the Greater Jerusalem proposal would allow Israel to annex nearly 10 per cent of the West Bank, including settlements near Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Rabah Mehanna, member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said that Kerry’s efforts “benefit the Zionist occupation and its schemes in Jerusalem and liquidates the cause of the refugees by settling them in Australia and other countries”

Mehanna warned the Ramallah government against “accepting a scheme that reinforces the Zionist presence in the Aghwar region, while allowing Israelis to settle freely in the West Bank.”

Fatah Central Committee member Mohamed Ashtiya, who has resigned from the Palestinian negotiating team, also voiced his disapproval. According to Ashtiya, Fatah cannot possibly agree to the presence of one Israeli soldier or settler on Palestinian territories.

Speaking in Bethlehem on the 49th anniversary of Fatah’s foundation, Ashtiya said that “East Jerusalem and its holy places must be the capital of our state, and we do not agree to having our capital shunted to any other place.”

Reacting to Israel’s demands of security assurances, Ashtiya stated: “Is it fair to ask the prisoner to reassure the prison warden?”

Ashtiya said that the Palestinians cannot possible recognise the “Jewishness of Israel”, as this would undermine Palestinian rights on numerous levels.

By asking for recognition of its Jewishness, Ashtiya said, “Israel is trying to settle three accounts at once: a future account by blocking the return of the refugees, a present account by displacing the 1948 Palestinians, and a history account by imposing the Torah account of Palestine and denying the Christian and Muslim accounts.”

Since negotiations resumed nearly five months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s rightwing government has been trying to procrastinate or steer the negotiating process to its advantage.

With every round of talks Kerry holds, Israel came up with ideas for building settlements, the most recent of which entails the annexation of the Aghwar region, which is nearly 27 per cent of the West Bank.

Questioning the Palestinian commitment to peace, Netanyahu insisted that, “peace means recognising Israel as a home of the Jewish people.”

The Israeli premier added that he could not agree to evacuate Israeli settlements situated outside the settlement constellations in the West Bank, because of their “importance” to the Jewish people, referring especially to the settlements near Hebron.

Israel’s hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, while addressing the annual conference of Israeli ambassadors, said: “When I speak of a swap of land and people, in the triangle (of Arab villages in northern Israel)… this is not displacement. No one will be evacuated or forced to go. But the borders will be moved to Highway 6 (running from south Israel to its north).”

Israel is proposing to offer land in the triangle area to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for its control on settlement constellations in the West Bank.

If the Palestinians agree, this would allow Israel to rid itself of nearly 300,000 Arab Palestinians living in this area, thus reducing the number of Arab Israelis under its control.

There are nearly 1.6 million Arab Israelis living in the country, equivalent to 20.7 per cent of Israel’s total population of eight million.

Lieberman said that he “will not support any peace deal allowing the return of one Palestinian refugee to Israel”.

Furthermore, Israel wishes to maintain military presence on the borders with Jordan. The Palestinians have told Kerry that they cannot allow any Israeli soldiers to remain in their future state. Instead, the Palestinians said they don’t mind having an international force deployed along the borders to keep the peace.

The Netanyahu government has demanded the deployment of advanced defence and early warning systems on the borders between the West Bank and Jordan.

Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, said that withdrawal from the West Bank could compromise the security operations of the Israeli army. The withdrawal, he warned, could also lead to the collapse of the Mahmoud Abbas government.

The Hebrew website Walla! cited Yaalon as saying that Israel must not “repeat the scenario from the withdrawal from Gaza in the West Bank.”

Israel “disengaged” unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, under Ariel Sharon. Two years later, Hamas took control of the Strip.

Now that peace talks have stalled, it is likely that American peace brokers will ask both sides to continue negotiations until the end of 2014.

The talks were originally scheduled to end April 2014.

Hezbollah is a stabilizing factor in the Levant unlike Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Hezbollah is a stabilizing factor in the Levant unlike Saudi Arabia and Qatar

modern tokyo timesMODERN TOKYO TIMES

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

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Gulf and Western intrigues in the Levant are collectively creating chaos and spreading sectarianism. In Lebanon the Hezbollah movement is trying to contain these dark forces by maintaining strong relations with powerful Christian leaders like Michel Aoun. At the same time Hezbollah is supporting the rich religious mosaic in Syria. Therefore, while Gulf and Western powers alongside Turkey have tried to crush the secular government in Syria; it is clear that the Russian Federation, Iran, and Hezbollah, are not for changing.

The Syrian armed forces are multi-religious in line with the nation of Syria and clearly the only sectarian angle belongs to the enemies of this nation. Indeed, Syria took in vast numbers of Sunni Muslims fleeing Palestine and Iraq. Therefore, when outside nations were meddling throughout the region the nation of Syria was open to all refugees irrespective of religious affiliation. This reality meant that Christians fleeing Iraq, after the destabilization of this nation, fled to Syria in order to escape sectarianism and terrorism. Sadly, the intrigues of Gulf and Western powers now means that vast numbers of Syrians from all faiths are fleeing the destruction which follows in the wake of outside meddling.

Sunni Takfiri fanatics and militant Salafists are entering Syria from many nations and clearly NATO Turkey is an open conduit for the vilest of jihadists to be found on this planet. After all, the so-called Islamic jihad in Syria is just based on terrorism, sectarianism, beheading, destroying the economy and doing the bidding of outside forces. Note, so-called Islamic jihadists are not fighting NATO Turkey in the north or Israel in the south; instead, they are going to Syria to slaughter and indoctrinate. In other words, Islamic jihadists are not only “blind pawns” based on being funded by wealthy Gulf states but these hypocrites are also the enemies of the Levant because they desire to sow wars based on sectarianism.

Once more, the governments of America and the United Kingdom have helped to cleanse Christians just like they did in Iraq and Kosovo. Indeed, President Obama of America even supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt despite this movement being anti-Christian and anti-secular.  However, the masses in Egypt woke up to the dark threat of the Muslim Brotherhood and similarly the armed forces of Syria refuse to abandon their homeland.

In Syria the forces of Hezbollah are fighting for the richness of the Levant despite the mass propaganda being espoused in the media towards this movement. After all, when Sunni Takfiri Islamists take control of mainly Alawite and Christian villages then both communities flee. The same happens when the brutal Free Syrian Army (FSA) enters either mixed areas or villages belonging to various minorities. Yet, when Hezbollah assists the armed forces of Syria, then this movement only engages itself in fighting various sectarian and terrorist forces.

Hezbollah is not interested in enforcing their faith on anyone. On the contrary, it is clear that Hezbollah supports the mainly Sunni Palestinians, just like this movement is working closely with powerful Christian forces in Lebanon under the leadership of Michel Aoun. Indeed, the modern day movement of Hezbollah resembles many aspects of the secular government of Syria and this applies to supporting the religious and ethnic mosaic of the Levant. This reality highlights the clear sham of sectarianism being thrown at Hezbollah and the government of Syria.

However, in the opposite direction you have the brutal sectarianism of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are supporting many militant Salafi and Takfiri movements in various nations. Of course, in Syria both feudal Gulf powers are supporting terrorism and sectarianism openly. Also, Gulf petrodollars are doing much in the shadows throughout the world based on spreading an ideology based on supremacy and hatred. Like usual, Western powers care zilch about the Christian faith because in Saudi Arabia not one single Christian church is allowed and apostates face death.

Saudi Arabia is now trying to spread dissent in Lebanon by funding the armed forces of this nation. Despite this, many powerful regional religious leaders fully understand the evil deeds being done throughout the Levant based on the intrigues of Gulf and Western powers. Therefore, Hezbollah will continue to fight against outside nations who seek to alter the indigenous dynamics of the Levant.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com/

Bandar Flips the “Chechen Switch,” Followed By the “Al-Qaeda In Iraq Switch”

Syria: Army of the Mujahideen Challenges ISIS Gains

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Fighters from the Free Syrian Army buy AK-47 bullets from a weapons seller in Idlib province on July 4, 2012. (Photo: AFP)

It seemed that many actors wanted to take advantage of ISIS’ retreat to bolster the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with renewed attempts in recent days to resurrect the latter. But what is the story behind the Army of the Mujahideen? How did it advance rapidly at the expense of ISIS, which until recently was the “bogeyman” threatening to devour everyone?

Speaking to Al-Akhbar, a field source from the Syrian opposition explained that the nascent Army of the Mujahideen did not emerge overnight. He said, “Efforts to create the army began in conjunction with the formation of the Islamic Front. There seemed to be an urgent need to merge the armed groups that do not want to take the form of an Islamist army, and which insisted on the idea of the endangered FSA, together.”

The source added that the delay in forming the army in question was due to many reasons, most notably the fact that no outside power had sponsored the move, whether politically or financially. As a result, the source said, there was no outside pressure put on the various factions to force them to unite.

Formation, Components, and Spheres of Influence

The Army of the Mujahideen was formed out of the following factions: the 19th Division of the FSA, the group known as Fastaqim Kama Umirt, meaning “Be Upright As Ordered,” the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Islamic Brigades, and al-Noor Islamic Movement.

In turn, the FSA 19th Division consists of the Liwaa al-Ansar, whose influence is concentrated along the Aleppo-Damascus highway in Aleppo’s western countryside; Liwaa Amjad al-Islam; Liwaa Ansar al-Khilafa; al-Quds Brigades; Khan al-Assal Free Brigades; al-Shuyukh Brigade; and Liwaa al-Mujahireen.

Fastaqem Kama Umirt is made up of the Aleppo City Battalion; Liwaa Halab al-Shahbaa; Liwaa al-Islam, and the Abu Amara Brigades, which refused to join the Army of the Mujahideen, and subsequently split from Fastaqem Kama Umirt. The militants with Fastaqem are concentrated in the districts of Salah al-Din, Seif al-Dawla, Sheikh Said, Bab al-Nairab, Jeb al-Jalabi, Jisr al-Haj, Ansari, and Mashhad of Aleppo.

These brigades have been deploying the so-called “hell cannon,” which fires explosive gas cylinders at the Western neighborhoods adjacent to the areas they control, killing many civilians.

Meanwhile, the influence of the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades covers areas in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo, such as Anjara, Hour, Mansoura, and Kafr Dael. These brigades are believed to be the strongest among the constituents of Army of the Mujahideen.

They are led by Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, who some reports alleged was the leader of the new army. However, sources inside the group denied this, and told Al-Akhbar, “There is no one leader, but a joint leadership including Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin; Lt. Col. Abu Bakr commander of Liwaa al-Ansar; and Captain Mohammed Shakerdi, commander of Liwaa Amjad al-Islam.”

The source also stressed that the Army of the Mujahideen relied on local resources for funding, and did not receive any external financing.

The Situation on the Ground on the Eve of the Battles

ISIS had offices and outposts in the areas mentioned earlier, which started as preaching centers before they were turned into military garrisons. Some of the FSA-affiliated brigades in these areas had also pledged allegiance to ISIS, such as the notorious Abdo Zamzam group in the town of Bashqatin, strengthening ISIS’ presence.

After ISIS took control of a given area, it would leave a small group of militants behind, numbering no more than a few dozen, or no more than 200 in vast regions like Dana in Idlib. ISIS then put increased pressure on the towns of Atareb and Orme (west of Aleppo), following its habit to isolate and attack FSA groups one by one, as it had done in some districts of Aleppo and the towns of Aazaz and Bab.

ISIS’ attack on Atareb and Orme coincided with the Army of the Mujahideen going public. The Army of the Mujahideen’s first mission was to repel an attempt to storm the area. The army benefited from popular anger against ISIS, although the latter was previously cheered and seen as a savior from the “thieves of the revolution.”

According to Army of the Mujahideen sources, the number of people from the area who enlisted has exceeded 5,000. The sources said, “For the first time, ISIS forces faced fierce resistance from the people of the region, who rushed to expel it after they suffered from its excesses.” Since ISIS militants in the area were scattered and distributed into small groups, according to the same sources, “the residents were able to easily rout the small groups.”

Other sources familiar with the inner workings of the armed groups told Al-Akhbar that Liwaa al-Tawhid, one of the groups that make up the Islamic Front, took advantage of these developments, and began supporting Army of the Mujahideen forces away from the media. Similarly, the notorious brigades that were under siege from ISIS, such as the Free Syria Battalion led by Ahmad Afash, and the Badr Martyrs Battalion led by Khaled Hayyani, attacked ISIS forces in the town of Andan, north of Aleppo, and the Bani Zeid district within the city.

In the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, militants from Fastaqem Kama Umirt attacked ISIS’ posts in Jisr al-Haj. The fighting spread to Kallaseh Square, while battles in the countryside quickly spread north, to Haritan and Tel Rifaat, all the way to Azaz, in an effort to expel ISIS from there.

In the eastern countryside of Idlib adjacent to the border with the Aleppo governorate, Dana, Bab al-Hawa, and the town of Atma were put under siege, the latter being ISIS’ reception point for jihadist arrivals from all over the world via Turkey. A villa compound housing ISIS foreign fighters and their families near the town or Orme al-Kubra was also placed under siege.

Faced with these developments, ISIS was forced to pull some of its troops from the front lines with the Syrian army in southeast Aleppo and Raqqa. This could give the Syrian army an opportunity to advance and take advantage of the vacuum.

Causes Behind ISIS Retreat

There are many reasons behind ISIS’ sudden retreat. In addition to the dispersion of its militants, and the Army of the Mujahideen successfully taking advantage of the popular mood, another fundamental factor has made a great impact, namely, the absence of Chechen jihadists from the battle. Indeed, the Chechen fighters are known to be a formidable strike force.

Several Chechens have split from ISIS. Saifullah al-Shishani defected with 400 of his men three months ago, followed by Sheikh Salah al-Shishani with 800 of his men. Things culminated two weeks ago with Sheikh Omar al-Shishani leaving with a large group of his fighters to Deir al-Zour, a move that sources told Al-Akhbar was meant to distance himself from ISIS’ conduct in Aleppo and its countryside.

The sources said, “From what we know about Sheikh Omar, we can affirm that he hates injustice, and is not satisfied with ISIS’ actions. However, he cannot defect. Given his fondness of the project to establish the caliphate and impose Sharia, defection would ruin this project.”

But another informed source believes Sheikh Omar al-Shishani’s move was essentially motivated by the temptation of controlling oil wells in Deir al-Zour. Giving his take on why ISIS is on the retreat, the source said, “God will not allow an unjust state to survive. The infidel state can endure if it is just. I believe ISIS has two main problems: the foolishness and arrogance of the Tunisian, Libyan, and Iraqi members; and the disloyalty of Syrian supporters.”

Al-Nusra Front: Schadenfreude

On the afternoon of January 5, reports surfaced that al-Nusra Front had seized the town of Dana, taking advantage of the disarray in ISIS’ ranks. But Al-Akhbar’s sources denied that al-Nusra had taken full control of the town, saying that an agreement was reached whereby ISIS hands over its posts to al-Nusra Front.

Either way, al-Nusra Front, which is designated by many as a terrorist group, has rushed to take advantage of the situation, calling on foreign jihadists who had defected to ISIS to rejoin its ranks. Al-Nusra has proposed itself as a mediator, when it is actually on the side of Army of the Mujahideen.

In the same vein, an opposition source told Al-Akhbar, “It is a known fact that the Chechens would rather die than hand themselves over to the FSA, while al-Nusra Front represents an acceptable party for them to surrender to, in preparation to be reabsorbed into its ranks.”

It is also worth noting that ISIS’ ultra extremist brand has helped promote among some the notion that al-Nusra is a moderate Islamist front, when this is definitely not the case. Interestingly, jihadist sources reported on January 5 that Abu Mohammed al-Golani, emir of al-Nusra Front, has proposed an initiative to ISIS whereby the two groups would unite under one banner and one leadership, in a formation to be called al-Qaeda in the Levant.

Profile: Sheikh Tawfiq Leader of Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades

The Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades are considered the strongest component of the Army of the Mujahideen. The militia’s leader is Tawfiq Shahabuddin, born in 1973 in the region of Sheikh Salman near Qubatan al-Jabal. Since he formed the brigades, he has become known as Sheikh Tawfiq.

Before the start of the Syrian crisis, the illiterate Shahabuddin worked as a camel-meat butcher. At the start of the armed insurgency in the Aleppo countryside, he sold all his properties for about $150,000, which he donated to Riad al-Assaad, to support the FSA. In return, Assaad appointed him as commander of the FSA in his home region, and in a short space of time, the armed group Shahabuddin formed was able to control Sheikh Salman.

Recruits to his group have since increased continuously. He took part in the battle to enter Aleppo, and positioned his group in the Salah al-Din district under the banner of Liwaa al-Tawhid. In early December 2012, Shahabuddin split from Liwaa al-Tawhid, and decided to operate independently.

Locally, the Nour al-Din al-Zanki Brigades are not seen as engaging in looting and theft, despite having confiscated private properties and factories belonging to residents of Aleppo. The brigades have also kidnapped people and released them for ransom.

Army of the Mujahideen: We Will Not Fight al-Nusra Front

Army of the Mujahideen sources were keen to stress that they are not an “extremist group,” while a number of media outlets sought to portray the army as a moderate faction “similar to the FSA.” But this is inconsistent with the message carried by a January 4 statement.

Signed by the political bureau of Army of the Mujahideen, “Statement Two” said: “We distance ourselves from any confrontation with our brothers in al-Nusra Front, or any other jihadi faction, whether through direct fighting or in coordination with any faction against them.”

The statement then added, “We call on the honest ones among our brothers the mujahideen in ISIS to defect and join their brothers in Syria against the Nusairi [derogatory term for Alawi] Assad regime.”