Middle East Monitor - Creating New Perspectives Bringing you the latest and up-to-date news from the Middle East. We go one step further, facilitating a better understanding of the issues facing the Middle East. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/component/content/frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:57:55 +0000 MEMO en-gb HRW criticises UNSC statement on ISIS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14260-hrw-criticises-unsc-statement-on-isis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14260-hrw-criticises-unsc-statement-on-isis Human Rights Watch logoHuman Rights watch criticised on Friday the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) statement on Iraq and ISIS, saying that it will lead to the alienation of Sunnis in the country, Anadolu news agency reported.

UN Director of Human Rights Watch Philippe Bolopion said: "This important discussion did not deplore the flagrant violations carried out by the Iraqi army and its allies from the Shiite militias."

Writing in a letter sent to reporters in New York he said: "The flagrant violations carried out by the Iraqi army and its ally militias were documented. This has aggravated the alienation of Sunnis in Iraq."

Bolopion wrote on Twitter: "Turning a blind eye to the Iraqi government and militia abuses does not help combat ISIS. Quite the opposite, it further alienates Iraqi Sunnis."

The UNSC issued a decision on Friday announcing full support for the new Iraqi government in its fight against ISIS.

UNSC issued a statement condemning the "attacks of terrorist organisations, including ISIS." The statement called for "supporting the efforts of the new Iraqi government aimed at stabilising and helping all Iraqis to prosper."

In addition, the statement called for all Iraqis to be involved in the political process, as well as it criticising the kidnapping, rape and torture carried out by ISIS.

The statement also called for halting all forms of oil trade with ISIS, who control a number of oil refineries and attempt to sell oil to different international parties.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:24:27 +0000
Protests in Egypt against price hikes and politicised trials https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14259-protests-in-egypt-against-price-hikes-and-politicised-trials https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14259-protests-in-egypt-against-price-hikes-and-politicised-trials Egyptian protestersOpponents of the military coup have organised mass protests across Egypt condemning the deterioration of living conditions, price hikes and the ongoing electricity crisis. They are also calling for the prosecution of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for "crimes against humanity".

The protests came in response to a call by the Anti-Coup Alliance, which called for a "new revolutionary week" starting Friday under the slogan, "The oath of the revolution and the vow of the martyr".

In the affluent Maadi neighborhood in Cairo, protesters denounced lifting subsidies and the increase in fuel prices. They also chanted for the release of all political prisoners and putting an end to torture in prisons.

In Hilwan, the alliance organised a morning protest against military rule and worsening living conditions. They vowed to continue protests until the leader of the coup is prosecuted.

In Baltim town in Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate, protesters condemned politicised trials and price hikes. In Desouk, protesters waved pictures of Mohamed Morsi and Rabaa signs and chanted against the deteriorating living conditions and poor services, especially electricity.

The Anti-Coup Alliance has been organising almost daily protests since the 3 July military coup against President Mohamed Morsi last summer.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:20:01 +0000
Al-Sisi to appoint seven university presidents https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14258-al-sisi-to-appoint-seven-university-presidents https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14258-al-sisi-to-appoint-seven-university-presidents President SisiEgyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will appoint seven university heads within the next 48 hours, Misr Al-Arabiya reported.

The universities are Port Said, Monofeya, Suez Canal, Zagazig, Mansoura, Damietta, and Fayoum.

The appeals committee at the Higher University Council has excluded nine candidates from a total of 69 applicants.

The Egyptian cabinet has postponed the start of the academic term until 11 October.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:16:49 +0000
ISIS militants seize more Kurdish villages in northern Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14257-isis-militants-seize-more-kurdish-villages-in-northern-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14257-isis-militants-seize-more-kurdish-villages-in-northern-syria ISIS forces leave destructionIslamic State (ISIS) militants seized control of 40 Kurdish villages around the town of Kubani in northern Syria on Friday, raising the number of Kurdish villages controlled by ISIS to 60 within 48 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

According to the director of the SOHR, Rami Abdelrahman, as cited by AFP the Kurdish fighters withdrew from the 60 villages "because the balance of power is not in their favour".

He added, "The fate of the 800 residents of these villages is still unknown."

Turkey had to open its borders on Friday to thousands of Syrian Kurds who were forced to flee from the violent battles between ISIS and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:14:18 +0000
US won't telegraph timing of Syria airstrike https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14256-us-wont-telegraph-timing-of-syria-airstrike https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14256-us-wont-telegraph-timing-of-syria-airstrike Susan Rice The US is prepared to launch airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria but will not disclose the planned timing of its operations, national security adviser Susan Rice said on Friday.

"I don't think it would be appropriate or wise for me to telegraph from the podium exactly when that will occur, and what steps may need to be taken before that is to occur," Rice told reporters at a White House press briefing.

She added that any attacks on Syria would be "at a time and a place of our own choosing" and that "when and how we choose to do that will be an operational decision."

The statements come ten days after US President Barack Obama said he had authorised bombing ISIS in Syria and that the strikes will be aimed at denying an ISIS safe haven in Iraq and Syria.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:11:22 +0000
Palestinian Parliament: Prime Minister has to resign if unable to carry out mission https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14255-palestinian-parliament-prime-minister-has-to-resign-if-unable-to-carry-out-mission https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14255-palestinian-parliament-prime-minister-has-to-resign-if-unable-to-carry-out-mission Ahmed BaharFirst Deputy Speaker for the Palestinian Parliament Ahmed Bahar called on Friday on the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah to resign if he is unable carry out the mission agreed upon by Palestinian factions.

In a celebration held in honour of the Palestinian martyrs in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, Bahar said: "If Hamadallah's government is unable to carry out the mission agreed upon by the Palestinian factions, such as reconstructing Gaza and paying for all employees, it should quit."

He added: "The head of the reconciliation government has not contacted officials in the Gaza Strip before, during or after the Israeli war, which caused the death of hundreds and wounded thousands. If he does not want to serve his people, he has to resign."

Bahar said that reconstructing the Strip has to start immediately, noting that there are demands for disarming the Palestinian resistance in return for reconstruction.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:06:13 +0000
Libyans protest against expired parliament https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14254-libyans-protest-against-expired-parliament https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14254-libyans-protest-against-expired-parliament Libyans protesting in Tripoli

Hundreds of Libyans took to the streets on Friday in Tripoli and Benghazi to protest against the convention of the expired parliament based in Tobruk, Anadolu news agency reported.

The protesters in Tripoli called for the dissolution of the parliament and nullifying all of its decisions. They also announced their support for the National Salvation Government, which was chosen by the expired General Assembly.

They chanted slogans supporting the 'Fajr Libya' operation, which is up against the 'Al-Karamah' operation launched by the renegade, retired Major General Khalifa Haftar.

Meanwhile, protesters in Benghazi who have gathered for the seventh week announced their support for the 'Fajr Libya' operation and reiterated their refusal of the convention of the expired parliament.

"Its decisions are invalid and so is the call for foreign interference in the country," a protester said. "We will not recognise the decisions of the parliament in Tobruk."

The protesters performed a funeral prayer for Sheikh Nabeel Sati, the director of culture affairs in Benghazi, who was assassinated on Thursday night when he left the mosque after Isha Prayer.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 12:44:01 +0000
Iraq hostages freed after surveillance and analysis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14253-iraq-hostages-freed-after-surveillance-and-analysis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14253-iraq-hostages-freed-after-surveillance-and-analysis Freed Turkish hostagesIMAGES

A foreign ministry source says the National Intelligence Organization operation to free the Turkish hostages in Mosul followed careful planning and analysis of other ISIL kidnapping cases.

The operation to free the Turkish consulate staff and their families was a "national operation" conducted solely by the foreign branch of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT), according to a foreign ministry source.

Officers from the foreign operations department of MIT developed a strategy to free the 46 Turkish hostages after analyzing other ISIL kidnapping cases in Syria and Iraq, the source said.

Using local assets on the ground in Mosul, unmanned reconnaissance drones and electronic communications, the MIT strategy proved successful at the beginning of July when a group of Turkish truck drivers held by ISIL for 23 days in Mosul was freed.

The source said the safety of the hostages was the main priority throughout their 101 days of captivity.

The same source insisted that Turkey did not pay any ransom or agree any conditions for the captives' release.

The group was held at eight different locations during their captivity, with their movements constantly followed by drones and other intelligence assets from the first day.

The source also revealed that up to six previous attempts had been made to secure the hostages' freedom but failed because of fighting in northern Iraq.

The operation was delayed to Saturday until a lull in fighting between ISIL and Kurdish PYD near the Syrian border allowed the hostages to be taken out via Tal Abyad, an ISIL-controlled city in northern Syria, and the Akcakale border crossing into Turkey.

The consulate staff and their families were captured by ISIL militants in Mosul on June 11.

[widgetkit id=408]

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:48:14 +0000
Egypt bars Gazans from travel to six countries: Official https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14252-egypt-bars-gazans-from-travel-to-6-countries-official https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14252-egypt-bars-gazans-from-travel-to-6-countries-official Rafah crossingEgyptian authorities have barred Palestinians seeking to travel to Turkey, Qatar and four other countries from leaving the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing, a Palestinian official said Saturday.

"Egyptian authorities have told the border authority that students and citizens seeking to travel to Turkey, Malaysia, Algeria, Iran, Qatar and Libya will not be dealt with," border official Ismail Abul-Gabeen said in a press release.

There was no comment from Egyptian authorities on the claim.

Egypt's relations with Turkey and Qatar soared following last year's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military.

Located on the border between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, the Rafah crossing has in recent years been a major sore point in Egyptian-Palestinian relations.

The crossing – which is dedicated to the movement of persons, foodstuffs and medicine – has been kept tightly shut for the most part by Egyptian authorities, especially since Morsi's overthrow.

Gaza residents frequently complain that the crossing closure by Egypt has compounded the suffering already induced by Israel's eight-year-old blockade of the coastal territory.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:43:12 +0000
Tunisia's president to seek re-election https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14251-tunisia-president-to-seek-re-election https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14251-tunisia-president-to-seek-re-election moncef MarzoukiTunisian President Moncef Marzouki said Saturday he will seek re-election during the country's upcoming presidential election slated for November 23.

"I have applied [for the polls] to defend national independence, rights and economic and social freedom," Marzouki told reporters.

"I trust the intelligence of the Tunisian people to know who is able to serve," he added.

Marzouki was elected Tunisia's president in 2011 following a popular revolution that ended the autocracy of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

In August, Tunisia's Congress for the Republic Party said it would support Marzouki, who also serves as honorary party chairman, in the upcoming elections.

Presidential hopefuls have until September 22 to present their candidacy applications to Tunisia's electoral commission.

Several political figures have already registered since the electoral commission began accepting applications on September 8.

These include Mustapha Ben Jafar, who leads Tunisia's elected Constituent Assembly; Mohamed Hechmi Hamdi, a senior member of Tunisia's Republican Party; and veteran politician Beji Caid el Sebsi, head of the Tunisian Call Party.

Tunisia is also expected to hold parliamentary elections on October 26, according to a law approved recently by the Constituent Assembly.

The second round of presidential polls is also expected to be held before the end of the year, following the announcement of first-round results.

There are 190 political parties in Tunisia, most of which emerged following the 2011 uprising that ended the rule of longtime autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:30:36 +0000
Hamas accuses Palestinian Prime Minister of following Fatah's orders https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14250-hamas-accuses-palestinian-prime-minister-of-following-fatahs-orders https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14250-hamas-accuses-palestinian-prime-minister-of-following-fatahs-orders Sami Abu ZuhriHamas accused the Palestinian unity government of following orders from the rival Fatah movement on Friday because the Prime Minister has not announced any plans to guarantee the implementation of the reconciliation agreement.

In a statement, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said that the Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah "is loyal to the orders of the Fatah movement and its decisions".

"Hamdallah is not behaving according to the rules of the unity government, and ignores the rights of Gazan residents and their suffering," Abu Zuhri added. "He is reinforcing the rift and adding to the failure of the unity government."

On Thursday night senior Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that the unity government has not followed what was agreed upon in the agreement and said his movement is looking for "alternative solutions".

Weeks ago, before the end of the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to end the unity deal with Hamas based on Israeli claims that Hamas was attempting to carry out a coup against him in the occupied West Bank.

Abu Zuhri said: "Abbas' remarks about Hamas and the resistance are unjustified and the sources of information and figures he relied on were incorrect and have nothing to do with the truth."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:27:09 +0000
Fighting ISIS the right way https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14249-fighting-isis-the-right-way https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14249-fighting-isis-the-right-way Dr Phil LeechISIS is a real threat to the region and internationally. But, in order to deal with them, we should not be resigned to war.

On 11 September 2014, President Obama announced airstrikes against targets associated with the 'Islamic State' (ISIS, formally 'the Islamic state of Iraq and a-Sham') - a radical Sunni jihadist group which, earlier this year, asserted control over territory in Iraq and Syria and declared itself an independent sovereign entity, committed numerous atrocities, brutally murdered two American journalists (and now a British aid worker) and publicised their beheadings on social media.

The president laid out some details of the plan: the campaign's focus will be broader than just Iraq, ISIS targets in Syria will also be hit; while there will be no ground invasion Mr Obama likened the assault to American led missions in Somalia and Yemen; US forces will be joined by both local (Kurdish and Iraqi forces) and international allies in their fight (though at present the UK's possible involvement remains restrained while Australia and Canada are sending limited support); America will also arm 'moderate' rebels in Syria too. Overall the goal is to disrupt and destroy ISIS - in the same way the US continues to target al-Qaeda - though apparently there remains some confusion within the administration over the question of whether this constitutes a "war" or not.

Media reaction

Predictably, pundits and commentators from across the media and the blogosphere have responded to renewed American action in the Middle East with a range of reactions and criticisms.

For example, The Independent's veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, penned another weary column that tied the ongoing failure of American leadership to the history of foreign imperialism in the region, though he did not offer any alternatives to war. On the other hand Con Coughing - of The Telegraph - seems to come close to advocating a return to imperialism and a large-scale military campaign as a strategy, voicing blustering frustration at Obama's reluctance to send in the troops.

A few, more nuanced, analyses offer a better caliber of argument. For example David Frum – a former speechwriter for George Bush – notes Obama's inconsistency from the perspective of realism (an academic school of thought which argues that states should always act in their own best interests in an anarchic world).

In particular, he notes a missed opportunity to advance American interests by leveraging a de facto alliance that is emerging between the US, its allies, Syria and Iran – all of which oppose ISIS, even while they agree in little else. The US could have extracted important consessions from its major regional rivals in exchange for providing air cover to forces backed by Iran, or so Frum's argument goes.

Others have focused on the barbarism of ISIS. Such commentaries point out how the actions of its cadres contradict with a true interpretation of Islam and how its claims to represent the restoration of the Caliphate are undermined by its intolerance and absolutism (when in fact the period of the Abbasid Caliphate - a dynasty that ruled the Islamic empire from Bagdad during the 6th and 7th Centuries – is actually notorious as a time of great tolerance and inquiry).

Thus across more-or-less all the commentary there is apparently a quiet consensus that some kind of war is necessary. Perhaps it is best understood as a kind of resignation to the fact that America's warplanes and drones have embarked on a miserable, but ultimately necessary, mission to confront an intolerable threat.

Resignation to war

Further, this resignation seems to go beyond the sphere of professional commentators. Compare the muted reaction to Obama's speech last week to the popular and political rejection of American, French and British plans to bomb Syria last year, and one may note a stark contrast. Indeed, the run up to that prospective bombing campaign was stifled by British MP's rejection of their government's plan.

In short, in the case against the Assad regime in Syria, there was a strong public and political reaction against the prospect of bombing despite the fact that the public (and the British parliament) were fully aware of the brutality of the regime and its targeting of civilians.

So what's the difference between the two? Why do we oppose one war yet are resigned to another?

To date, Assad's regime has brutally killed and displaced far more people than ISIS has. It has also employed utterly reprehensible tactics – not only during this long civil war, but also in the decades of oppressive rule that preceded it. Of course, Assad's government remains – to some extent anyway – 'a state' with some trappings of legitimacy while ISIS only asserts a weak claim to that status.

This leaves two other possible reasons that really underlie the difference. First, that it could be ISIS' radical pseudo-religious fervour that makes it more of a threat to the west than Assad's professed secularism. Indeed, the existence of religious rhetoric ties into a long-standing fear among western governments that fighting abroad can and will radicalize disaffected Muslims at home.

While obviously not entirely unfounded, this claim is one driven by fear and is perhaps given more weight than is strictly necessary. More sober analyses suggests that while organisations such as ISIS do draw some support from foreign nationals, thus far these people remain far too poorly trained and equipped to carry out any kind of sophisticated attack on the homeland. And, further, they tend to be easier to track by intelligence agencies as a result of their connections to ISIS.

The second possible reason that remains is that ISIS has been so blatant in its use of brutal methods and, by killing US and UK citizens and advertising their murders so openly on social media, it has effectively thrown down the gauntlet to the US.

Again, going to war under such circumstances may be understandable. It is, of course, reasonable to expect the most powerful states in the world to use force to protect – or in this case, avenge – the lives of its citizens. But even if one accepts the legitimacy of vengeance as an impetus for this campaign, one must not be blinded to the fact that – by carrying out these beheadings and publicising them in the way that it has – ISIS was likely seeking to inspire exactly the kind of military response from the US as the one that is now forthcoming.

In other words, when one looks at these events in a more dispassionate and strategic light, one can see that the world's most powerful military is now effectively dancing to the tune of an organisation comprising about 31,000 people and operating across two desperately war-torn countries in the Middle East.

But why would ISIS want to incur the wrath of the US? The answer is simple and is based on a logic that has been employed by various groups engaged in similar asymmetric campaigns: US bombs may indeed degrade ISIS' infrastructure and kill its supporters, but they are also likely to feed the sense of grievance endured by local Sunnis and allow ISIS the room to claim it has some kind of moral platform, by fighting a powerful and oppressive foreign enemy.

Indeed, there is strong evidence to suggest that the oppression suffered by Sunni Muslims in Iraq and Syria has helped drive up existing levels of support for ISIS (though it is far from universally supported among Sunnis). Therefore it is relatively easy to understand that the US' bombing campaign may well serve as a strong recruiting sergeant for the organisation.

After all, people who have no-where else to turn may well see supporting ISIS as the only option left, even if they do not accept its ideology or methodology. Such a possible outcome is made even stronger by the fact that the US' de facto allies on the ground in Iraq and Syria have behaved so brutally in their own right.

The bigger picture

We must not forget the broader context of this war. It was American bombs and missile strikes launched against Saddam's regime in 2003 that began this miserable episode of history. A US-led coalition engaged claimed the moral high ground and attacked – what no one can doubt was – an utterly reprehensible regime. At the time the US promised to 'liberate' the population but instead it unleashed a hell of civil war and competition for power that has cost approximately 195,000 lives.

This is not to say that the US is directly responsible for the formation of ISIS, nor to say that terrible violence cannot occur without the involvement of US bombs and drones. (The Syrian civil war demonstrates that oppressive regimes are perfectly capable of imploding into crisis without the help of foreign forces).

Rather, my point is simply that the example of the 2003 Iraq war and its aftermath (and the 2011 campaign in Libya and its aftermath to boot) demonstrate how limited the utility of destructive force is in terms of its ability to create stability in the long term. Indeed, I argued strongly against the possible involvement of Western forces in the war in Syria in 2013, on precisely these grounds.

Indeed the potential for unintended consequences is not limited to inspiring further support for radical enemies of the US. Rather, there are numerous potential dangers here. For example, ISIS is known to have access to even more prisoners including 49 Turks – which is particularly significant given the Turkey's strategic significance on the boarder with Syria and Iraq – and it may chose to escalate its killing in the face of the US-led campaign.

Another threat that is tied to this strategy is that the US and its allies will not be able to keep track of the arms it sends to local allies. A report by Conflict Arms Research has already shown that US made weapons have fallen in to the hands of ISIS. Further such trafficking of arms is only made more likely by the US' strategy of supplying more weapons to the region.

Asphyxiation

But, if fighting the fire if ISIS' rise with the fire of airstrikes by arming its enemies is not a 'solution', then what is it that should be done? It surely cannot be acceptable to simply ignore this group and allow it to continue brutalising and murdering.

No. My answer is, instead of burning ISIS to the ground the organisation may be dealt with more effectively by starving it of oxygen.

As we have seen ISIS' status as the new great threat rests on two prongs – (a) the support of disaffected Sunnis in Iraq and Syria and (b) the hyperbole and fear surrounding its brutal methods of murder and its ability to advertise them, and perhaps inspire similar violence via social media.

Combine these two elements with the fact that ISIS has a managed to develop a relatively well-organised – but not independent – financial network and we see that the organisation is by no means invulnerable.

Rather than utilizing force to attack ISIS – which brings with inherent risk of enflaming the situation further – a more comprehensive strategy of cutting off support for ISIS through political, diplomatic and economic means could be employed.

In simple terms this would comprise, first, sanctions, diplomatic efforts and police action to cut off ISIS financial supply lines. Second would be, political efforts in support of addressing the legitimate grievances of Sunnis in Iraq and renewed efforts to undermine the oppressive Assad regime in Syria.

Third would be a more realistic and common sense approach to addressing the potential threat of internationalisation of ISIS influence. Or, in other words, Western governments could simply choose to be more robust in support of their own value systems and demonstrate a more stubborn confidence in the own security services ability to deal with emergent threats – as they have done effectively over the last ten years – without succumbing to panic.

As the president pointed out in his speech, the world is a far more complicated and dangerous place that many of us in the West are comfortable with. And in this world, emergent threats like ISIS must be, of course, dealt with. But we must not allow fear and rage – however legitimate – to crowd out the necessity for rational decision-making. There are other, less rash, ways of dealing with ISIS over the long term. It would be better to embrace those rather than rush to deploy drones, bombs and arms and feed the intensity of this conflagration.

We must not be resigned to war. After all, war is what ISIS wants most of all.

Dr Philip Leech is a Lecturer at in International Relations at the University of Liverpool. He is the editor of Globalisation Cafe and is on at @phil_haqeeqa

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Dr Phil Leech) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:00:54 +0000
Israeli government to build military barrier south of Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14248-israeli-government-to-build-military-barrier-south-of-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14248-israeli-government-to-build-military-barrier-south-of-jerusalem Apartheid seperation wallThe Israeli government has approved a project to set up a separation barrier in Battir village, south of occupied Jerusalem, Israeli sources have revealed.

According to the sources the Israeli cabinet decided to approve the construction of the barrier at its Sunday meeting.

Head of the Israeli High Court Asher Gronis called for the government to review the political consequences of the barrier, which will be built on ancient Palestinian agricultural strips of land. UNICEF announced the area to be a global heritage site.

The Israeli defence ministry claimed that the barrier would not touch these strips of land, but it said that Palestinian environmental activists and institutions strongly reject the barrier.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 20 Sep 2014 10:53:49 +0000
France launches first airstrike against ISIS in Iraq https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14247-france-launches-first-airstrike-against-isis-in-iraq https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14247-france-launches-first-airstrike-against-isis-in-iraq France has launched its first aerial strike against Islamic State (ISIS) positions in Iraq, the office of the French president said in a statement today.

The attack destroyed a logistics depot belonging to the group in northeastern Iraq, the French presidency said, adding that other attacks will follow in the coming days.

The strikes come a day after France's President Francois Hollande said he gave the green light to his air force to attack ISIS in Iraq.

At a press conference yesterday, Hollande said he approved a request by the Iraqi government to provide aerial support in its fight against ISIS militants, but confirmed that France will not send ground troops.

He added that France will not fight ISIS outside Iraq.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:53:08 +0000
Yemeni president holds emergency meeting following escalation of clashes with Houthis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14246-yemeni-president-holds-emergency-meeting-following-escalation-of-clashes-with-houthis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14246-yemeni-president-holds-emergency-meeting-following-escalation-of-clashes-with-houthis Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi held an emergency security meeting for the government yesterday following the renewal of clashes with Houthi militants north of the capital Sanaa, a government source said.

The source added that Hadi may take security measures for the sake of addressing the deteriorating conditions in light of the displacement of a number of families from the areas where clashes have taken place.

This comes in parallel with the continuation of the negotiations conducted by the UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, with the leader of Ansar Al-Allah Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, in the province of Saada, the group's stronghold, in the north of the country.

Earlier yesterday, sources said that two Yemeni soldiers were killed and 30 others wounded in clashes with Houthi militants in Shamlan district in the capital. Meanwhile, the same district witnessed mass displacement of residents to other areas in Sanaa.

The Yemeni army has deployed tanks around Hadi's residence, which lies eight kilometres away from the site of the clashes.

On Tuesday, clashes broke out between the Yemeni army and Houthi militants, leaving dozens dead and wounded.

Prior to the clashes, the Houthis asked the residents of the area to leave their homes, according to eyewitnesses.

The Houthi group has been organising protests at the entrances of Sanaa and near the headquarters of ministries in the city centre, calling for the resignation of the government and the reduction of fuel prices. An initiative by President Hadi to appoint a new government and reduce fuel prices has so far failed to contain the crisis due to the Houthis' insistence to implement the decisions before the protests stop.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:45:34 +0000
35,000 Egyptians stage online demonstration against power cuts https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14245-35000-egyptians-stage-online-demonstration-against-power-cuts https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14245-35000-egyptians-stage-online-demonstration-against-power-cuts Egyptian activists have turned to the internet to protest against power outages amidst the widespread crackdown on street protests.

The protests law issued last November stipulates that any protest must be approved by authorities beforehand. But the "electronic protest" does not require the same permission.

The protest, scheduled for today, has attracted more than 35,000 supporters.

The protesters criticised the government for its mismanagement of the electricity crisis, calling on it to come up with effective solutions to the problem.

On September 4, known as "dark Thursday", most Egyptian governorates have witnessed power cuts leading to the disruption of vital facilities such as subways. The problem, however, has seen relative improvement since that day, which prompted many to reject the call for protests.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:36:07 +0000
Sisi's rule... 100 days in prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/14244-sisis-rule-100-days-in-prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/14244-sisis-rule-100-days-in-prison At this time two years ago, hundreds of young revolutionaries were protesting in Tahrir Square to hold the then President Mohamed Morsi accountable for his actions during his first 100 days in office. By this time last year he had been overthrown by a military coup. His successor, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is totally unaccountable for what he has and hasn't done in his first 100 days. Now, indeed, the revolutionary youth attend their court hearings in wheelchairs and no one can even reach Tahrir Square.

Today, we don't see whole TV programmes turned over to analysing what the president failed to accomplish during his first 100 days; nor do we find special guests with bulging veins speaking passionately about the goals of the revolution that have not been accomplished. We certainly won't find anyone accusing Al-Sisi of causing an electricity crisis due to its export to the UAE. Instead, we have programmes dedicated to talking about the president's legendary achievements and guests smiling while they talk about his success in confronting conspiracies and his resolution in the face of America's Obama and Turkey's Erdogan. You will, though, certainly find people accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of plotting the electricity crisis in order to embarrass President Al-Sisi.

One hundred days have passed since he came to office, and the result is that thousands of people have been detained in prison unjustly; hundreds of crimes, including kidnapping, armed robbery and murder have been committed in broad daylight, which wouldn't have happened had there been a professional police force that protected the people and not only the president; and there are dozens of problems that no one demands that the president should solve, because he is busy with the war on terror, in which he has made great progress. Even the national project he adopted is on the verge of failing because he left it to the wrong people, forgetting the fact that he has actually left the Ministry of Defence.

We are now living in a state of complete insanity. Nothing is subject to the standards of logic in light of the fact that logic itself is not subject to standards. One hundred days into Al-Sisi's rule, we are now beyond history, living in a phase seen in most civilised nations over a century ago; we are living in a time before civilisation, development and justice.

If you say something that upsets the state, you are arrested by the police with a ready-made list of accusations that subject you to prosecution, putting you before a court without even hearing your statement. You are then put in front of a judge who issues a ruling for your imprisonment before your defence lawyers get a chance to speak. Then you try to explain the injustice committed against you to the media, but you find that most journalists are cosying up to the state; and when you tell the people your story, they are surprised by the ruling made against you and blame the judge for not giving you a death sentence.

Ahmed Douma entered the courtroom, where he is being tried, in a wheelchair. He is barely 30 years old, but seems to be a thousand years old, with a thousand questions on his mind: why am I here while all those who are guilty of killing demonstrators, participated in the Battle of the Camel, and seized state funds are all walking free? Why does the state hate us and like them? Is it because they are honourable people or because the state is corrupt like them?

Douma's wife sent a message to the president, appealing to his paternal instincts, urging him to intervene and rescue her husband because he did not steal, kill or commit treachery. Nourhan is waiting for an answer, but it still hasn't come and is unlikely to come. Douma's crime is unfortunately very serious, as he participated in the Cabinet clashes, the victims of which the state consider to be martyrs of the counter-revolution. He is also accused of burning down the Scientific Complex, and since the state has prosecuted those who burned the MS Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 ferry, the Bani Sweif Cultural Palace and the Shura Council, it's now time to prosecute the individual accused of burning the Scientific Complex.

In a state that still hasn't held accountable those who burned Cairo and killed Fatma Shajarat Al-Durr, and still does not know whether or not Gamal Abdel Nasser was murdered, or if Abdul Hakim Amer committed suicide or if his throat was slit, Ahmed Douma must die because he is accused of burning a building that no one would have heard of if it weren't for it being burned.

Mohamed Soltan went to his court hearings on a mobile bed due to the effects of the hunger strike he started nine months ago in protest at the length of time his was held in custody; the charges against him are serious and his release from prison is a major threat to security. His "crime" is that he is the son of a Muslim Brotherhood official named Salah Soltan, and this is a significant charge in a country where imprisonment is handed down to the sons of prisoners, just like a job in the prosecution, police and judiciary is inherited by the children of such civil servants.

In a state where many of its people have lost their honour, I do not believe that many will be sorry or will grieve if Mohamed Soltan died tomorrow as a result of his hunger strike. News reporters would probably wish that all the other hunger strikers would die as well.

What is this strangeness and oppression? Why is everyone antagonising young people who haven't sought authority or incited disobedience; who only asked for a free, dignified and fair life? Why do the authorities want to expel the people of the revolution from their village just because they have dreams? If the people of the state are antagonising them to preserve their authority and positions, then why are those who live like zombies antagonising them?

Do not bother too much with searching for an answer for there are precious few answers in Al-Sisi's Egypt. His first 100 days in office has been like 100 days in a prison for too many people.

Translated from Arabi21, 18 September, 2014

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Tamer Abu Arab) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:32:54 +0000
Sisi supporters slam EU statement on Egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14243-sisi-supporters-slam-eu-statement-on-egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14243-sisi-supporters-slam-eu-statement-on-egypt A statement by the European Union at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which criticised the human rights situation under the military government, has angered supporters of the current Egyptian President and ex-army chief Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi.

The June 30 forces and Sisi supporters have called for protests in front of European embassies in Cairo against what they considered to be foreign meddling in Egyptian affairs. According to Yasser Al-Qadi, the spokesman of the pro-Sisi Union of Egyptian Representatives, the EU statement is "flagrant intervention in Egyptian affairs and disrespects Egyptian sovereignty".

Al-Qadi said that the "June 30 forces" will stage protests at EU embassies on Sunday to express their rejection of the "shameful" EU statement.

"This is an American statement inked with European hypocrisy after the failure of John Kerry and Jean-Yves Le Drian to convince president Al-Sisi to take part in the alleged war on the Islamic State (ISIS) during their latest visit to Egypt," he added.

The secretary general of the Salafist Al-Nour Party, Galal Al-Morra, accused the EU of double-standards and of neglecting the human rights violations in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

"The Egyptian state is passing through a critical stage in its history and is beset by conspiracies that seek to shake its structure and fuel unrest and chaos," Al-Morra said.

Pro-Sisi judge Ahmed Al-Fadaly criticised the EU statement as "lacking objectivity and civility, and aiming at pressuring Egypt to take part in the so-called war on ISIS, which has been created by the US," adding that the objective of these pressures is "to involve the Egyptian army in the war in order to fragment it". Al-Fadaly accused the EU and US of being "terror sponsoring countries," stressing that Egyptian human rights record is "better than the EU itself".

During the 27th session of the UNHRC on Tuesday, the EU voiced its "concern" towards the "deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt". It slammed "indiscriminate detentions and disproportionate sentencing – including the death penalty."

Moreover, the statement added that the EU is "concerned with reports of torture in detention centres and sexual assaults on female detainees."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:29:57 +0000
Egypt moves to restrict protests at Al-Azhar University https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14242-egypt-moves-to-restrict-protests-at-al-azhar-university https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14242-egypt-moves-to-restrict-protests-at-al-azhar-university Egyptian authorities have approved amendments to Al-Azhar University's regulations aimed at curbing student dissent, Reuters reported.

The amendments stipulate that "any student or faculty member who incites, supports or takes part in rioting, vandalism or protests that disrupt study, would be expelled."

Al-Azhar University campus has witnessed a draconian crackdown on students by the authorities since the July 3 military coup. Dozens of students have been killed by riot police while protesting, and hundreds others have been rounded up.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which ousted President Mohamed Morsi hailed, enjoy strong support within Al-Azhar, one of the world's most prestigious centres for Islamic learning.

Al-Azhar campus has emerged as a hotspot for anti-coup protests since July 3, and particularly since the Rabaa square massacre where more than a hundred Al-Azhar students were shot dead by riot police.

The university's administration, loyal to the current authorities, have repeatedly allowed police to break into the university and fire tear gas and birdshots at student protesters, which lead to further protests.

According to the MENA news agency, the new rules will include patrols by security forces around schools and universities throughout the academic year.

Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University and once a supporter of the military coup, told Reuters that the amendments come as past of security measures aimed at frightening and curbing protesters, especially those affiliated with the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. But he added that "security measures will not be enough to deal with the issue."

"There is a feeling on campuses in general of a loss of freedom and of growing oppression. These restrictions are being felt not just by Brotherhood supporters but by other groups, including leftists and liberals," he said.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:06:59 +0000
Israeli Incremental genocide... https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14241-israeli-incremental-genocide https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14241-israeli-incremental-genocide It goes without saying that Gaza has taught the Israeli military a new lesson: the days of swift Israeli wars are over. While mostly one-sided, Israel has never before fought a war that lasted 50 days. The Palestinians (besieged by brothers and foes) were of no military match to Israel's most sophisticated US technology. But as in 2006 Lebanon war, the human factor rendered the best technology obsolete.

There were many parallels between summer 2006 and current war. Regretfully, in both cases, Israeli wanton destruction was received with indifference from the official Arab regime system.

It is no secret that some Arab governments were more interested in seeing Hizbollah degraded in 2006 than protecting innocent Lebanese civilians. In the last two months, the official Arab regime too disliked Hamas more than they cared about Palestinian life.

This time in Gaza, and unlike the last two confrontations in 08/09 and November 2012 - Palestinians seemed united at the negotiation table and on the battlefield. Ultimately, forcing the Egyptian mediator to back off from imposing the Israeli conditions and address the core issue that caused this war: the years old Israeli military blockade on Gaza.

After reaching ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the airwaves proclaiming winning the war. On the other side, Palestinians took to the streets celebrating the end of Israeli aggression and their victory.

It is definitely debatable as to who won the war. If winning is to be measured by the number of civilians killed and the damage left behind, Israel is by far the winner. If winning or losing was measured by objectives, Israel was undoubtedly the bigger loser.

For Israeli attempts to weaken Hamas has failed. Hamas which saw decline in its popularity before the war gained impressive approbation in most recent polling. The organisation was persona non grata in Egypt, but now it appeared to have reconciled with the regime.

Just like the Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006 where instead of weakening Hizbollah, the war propelled the party to become a major power-broker in local politics and emerged as a regional force to contend with.

In Gaza, the well-pampered Israeli soldiers were not prepared for the new tactics and the intricate underground fortification systems. In the face-to-face combat and as technology becomes useless, the craven Israeli soldier was of no match to the more determined Palestinian fighter.

According to eye witness accounts reported in the online Daily Beast last week, one fighter codenamed Abu Muhammad described the underground war, "First we targeted the tanks and the jeeps with IEDs. Some of our people would come out of the ground, attack the soldiers and then disappear back into a tunnel and others surprised them from empty houses."

Following heavy military losses, Netanyahu ordered his army to withdraw. He pulled his negotiation team from Cairo and insisted no ceasefire unless Israel's conditions for the invasion were met: disarmament of Gaza, return the remains of the purportedly dead Israeli soldiers and destruction of underground fortifications.

After Netanyahu's ceasefire terms were rejected, Israel intensified its air raids against civilians targeting homes of supposed Palestinian leaders and levelled large residential towers. Facing defiant Palestinians and his demoralised public, Netanyahu was forced eventually to accept a ceasefire including the easing of the military siege on Gaza.

It is delusional however to believe for a moment that Israel would honour its obligations under the ceasefire agreement. Losing in public polling, Netanyahu is predisposed to tighten, not ease the military blockade, in order to placate his right wing voters.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu lies to his people about winning a war without achieving one single objective and deceives the world with a ceasefire while maintaining a silent war of special "starvation diet" and carrying out "incremental genocide" against more than 1.7 million human beings.

Mr Kanj writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of "Children of Catastrophe," Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this blog was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jamal Kanj) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:01:49 +0000
Israeli Supreme Court upholds racist 'admission committees' law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14240-israeli-supreme-court-upholds-racist-admission-committees-law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14240-israeli-supreme-court-upholds-racist-admission-committees-law The Israeli Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a petition filed by several human rights organisations three years ago against one of the most dangerous and racist laws approved by the Knesset which paves the way for hundreds of Jewish towns to prevent Arab families from living in them.

The court's decision was issued by a majority of five judges out of a panel of nine. Among the four judges who opposed the apartheid law is the only Arab judge in the Israeli Supreme Court, Judge Salim Jubran who said the law "enshrines discrimination against Arabs".

The Admissions Committees' Law allows small residential communities; mostly agricultural comprised of hundreds of people in the Naqab and the Galilee, to "have the full discretion to accept or reject individuals who wish to live in these towns".

After the law was passed in 2011 dozens of towns rushed to put special conditions on who is illegible to live in them. However, ironically the first family to suffer from the racist law in 2011 was a Jewish family which was rejected from living in one of the towns in the south because its culture differs from the Ashkenazi culture prevailing in the community.

The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, one of the petitioners said: "The law gives the green light to entrench racial segregation; 434 small communities or 43 per cent of all residential areas will be allowed to close their doors to Palestinian Arab citizens of the state."

The law is one of the most racist laws issued in recent years and mainly aims to marginalise Arab citizens and prevent them from living in small communities.

Minister of the Knesset Mohammed Baraka, who heads the Democratic Front Peace and Equality, said: "The law legalises a well established approach over the years as several Jewish towns have repeatedly rejected having Arabs live in them, and perhaps the most prominent case is the case of the Kaadan family which reached the highest levels of the judicial system, therefore, the law will not significantly alter the policy applied on the ground, but it will give legal cover to these racist acts and prevents the judicial system from preventing them and now the Supreme Court approves the law."

Baraka added that the majority, if not all, of these towns are established on confiscated Arab lands or at the expense of already established Arab towns and "when a Palestinian Arab Israeli is forced to live in these towns, this stems from the suffocating population crisis in our towns, due to the racist Israeli policy of discrimination which steals our land, and narrows our chances of a normal life."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:56:57 +0000
UAE citizens slam government policy of blocking websites https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14239-uae-citizens-slam-government-policy-of-blocking-websites https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14239-uae-citizens-slam-government-policy-of-blocking-websites Emirati citizens have criticised their country's security authorities' repression of freedom of expression, the most recent of which is the government's decision to block dozens of websites.

The citizens said that recently the UAE came at the top of a list of Arab states that seek to gag their citizens, saying that although people do not exercise absolute freedom, through the internet, they can express their opinion and their suffering as well as discover the size of the deliberate marginalisation practices which the ruling regimes partake in against them. The Emirati regime prosecutes cyber activists and seeks to silence people in the real world and even in the virtual world.

Observers said the UAE is considered one of the most prolific Arab states which strives to block everything that could have a negative impact on its citizens, noting that the Telecommunications Authority uses proxy servers to block websites claiming they violate Islamic law.

A recent survey by a Gulf newspaper revealed that 59.5 per cent of the participants do not support blocking websites and insist that they can exercise self-censorship, while 40.5 per cent of them supported the decision to preserve the society's customs and traditions.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:51:00 +0000
Lebanese army: Israeli tapping devices violate Resolution 1701 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14238-lebanese-army-israeli-tapping-devices-violate-resolution-1701 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14238-lebanese-army-israeli-tapping-devices-violate-resolution-1701 General Luciano Portolano, UNIFIL ChairThe Lebanese army said in a statement Thursday that it had informed the head of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) that Israeli tapping devices installed along the Blue Line are in violation of the Security Council Resolution 1701.

During a tripartite meeting with General Luciano Portolano, who chairs UNIFIL, Lebanese army official Mohammad Janbeh said: "Israeli telecommunications equipment along the UN-designated Blue Line is an attempt to eavesdrop on Lebanese communications which violates Resolution 1701."

He continued: "The new tapping devises are related to an Israeli tapping device that was discovered inside the Lebanese territory, and was blown up in the area of Adloun earlier this month."

The army stressed on the need to respect Resolution 1701.

Further, the army highlighted the continuous Israeli aerial violation of its air space saying that on average Israeli planes fly over the Lebanese territory for 15 hours a day.

A Lebanese security source said: "The Israeli army has been strengthening and fortifying its military sites along the Lebanese borders off the Addaisseh-Kafr Kila road to obscure the vision from the Lebanese side of the Israeli army's movements amid tight security measures by its soldiers."

The source pointed out that "these moves come as Israel has intensified its violation of the Lebanese airspace using drones and helicopters over the occupied Arqoub villages and until Marjayoun and Hasbaya".

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:11:02 +0000
'Palestinian prisoner tortured to death in Israeli jail' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14237-palestinian-prisoner-tortured-to-death-in-israeli-jail https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14237-palestinian-prisoner-tortured-to-death-in-israeli-jail Israeli prisonRaed Abdel-Salam Al-Jabari, a Palestinian prisoner held in an Israeli jail has died as a result of severe torture at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces, the head of Prisoners and Freed Prisoners Affairs in Ramallah Issa Qaraqe said.

Qaraqe accused Israel of committing two crimes against Jabari, 35, when the Israeli authorities claimed that he had hanged himself in prison in an attempt to hide the real reason for his death, torture.

Al-Jabari was imprisoned on July 26 in Eshel prison.

Speaking during a press conference in Hebron, Qaraqe said: "Jabari's autopsy report, which was conducted at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Dis, revealed that he had been subjected to severe torture which resulted in internal bleeding and severe concussion that led to his death."

He stressed that "Jabari's autopsy results did not reveal any marks around the neck which refutes the Israeli claim that he had hanged himself."

Qaraqe had previously said that several prisoners who were imprisoned with Al-Jabari testified that he was severely beaten by the Nahshon forces when he was transferred to Eshel prison

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:09:15 +0000
Iran and Israel's role in the war on ISIS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14236-iran-and-israels-role-in-the-war-on-isis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14236-iran-and-israels-role-in-the-war-on-isis Kurdish Peshmerga forces being deployed in KirkukTwo states in the region were not invited to officially join the regional Arab international alliance to fight the Islamic State (ISIS), namely Iran and Israel. The United States was most likely behind the decision to exclude the two states, but of course by virtue of a previous agreement with both of them, based on the Unites States' past decision to exclude both countries - in agreement with their leaderships - during the war on Afghanistan, and later in the war on Iraq (2001 and 2003). It is striking that the US has decided, for the second time, to exclude the two states that gain the most from its wars in the region.

The United States was afraid to officially invite Iran to its current alliance and the ongoing war in order for the US not to appear to the Arab, Islamic, American, and European public opinion to be in a military alliance with Iran, which the US still refers to in hostile terms, in one way or another, especially due to the disputes over its nuclear programme and its support of Bashar Al-Assad's regime. The US also feared the effects its invitation to Iran would have on the positions of some Arab states, especially the Gulf, that are already worried about the unofficial alliance and coordination between the US and Iran.

In addition to this, Iran's participation in this war would be an announcement to mobilise the Sunni citizens in the region against the alliance that will appear to be sectarian and against the Sunnis in light of the hostile environment in Iran due to its criminal acts in the two countries that will be bombed (Iraq and Syria). It has been said that the air force will be serving the actions on the ground that Iran's militias will be carrying out.

As for Israel, the US was afraid to involve it in this regional Arab international coalition to wage war on ISIS for the same reasons it refused to officially include Israel in the war on Iraq and Afghanistan during the alliance formed during George Bush's presidency. Including Israel in an official alliance with Arab countries would put its leaders in a difficult situation in the eyes of its citizens who consider Israel to be a country that has seized Arab and Palestinian land, or because the Arab and Islamic public opinion would reject such an alliance before it would even start, and ISIS would seem to be fighting the enemy of the entire nation who kills its people, i.e. Israel.

In addition to this, the previous experience of forming an alliance for the war on terror during Bush's administration has proven that Iran and Israel, which have been officially excluded from participating in the war alliance, not only benefitted from the war, but also participated in it. The war on Afghanistan and Iraq ended with two winners; Iran and Israel, and no other states, not even the US itself. The blow dealt to the Iraqi army was a victory for the two states without their soldiers having to fire a single shot. The door was open for the growth of Iran's role and its influence and control in the region, as well as its control over Iraq, which was "liberated" by the US forces.

It was over for the national Iraqi army which was a constant concern for Israel in the balance of power with the Arabs. The reports from the Israeli and Iranian sides have proven that they shared roles and interests in the post-occupation period inside Iraq without much dispute. This was their reward for unofficially participating in the wars. (Iran has officially admitted to participating in the war.)

In the current war, things seem to be the same, albeit a few small changes here and there in the language used to express embarrassment. If anything has changed, it is that the war on terror is occurring directly in the region and it is targeting all the heads of the national Sunni resistance. This means that Israel and Iran are in the heart of the battle in a more comprehensive manner, as Iran is greatly hostile towards ISIS and all the national Sunni resistance, and is actually fighting a war against them, killing unequivocally based on sect.

Iran is already in the war and is not waiting for the alliance, and the fact that it is not officially a part of the alliance will not stop it. It is better for it to work secretly with the alliance while openly playing the game of washing its hands of its alliance with America and Israel.

On the other hand, Israel is also engaged in the conflict, not only against ISIS, as it has tried to link ISIS and Hamas, but in a historical war against the Sunni Arabs.

Translated from Al-Sharq newspaper, 18 September, 2014

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Tala'at Rameeh) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:04:27 +0000
Morsi reversed: The hypocritical legitimacy in Libya and its surroundings https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/14235-morsi-reversed-the-hypocritical-legitimacy-in-libya-and-its-surroundings https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/14235-morsi-reversed-the-hypocritical-legitimacy-in-libya-and-its-surroundings Dr Abdul Wahab Al-EffendiIn Egypt, the elected president is suffering in jail and his supporters are arguing that he is the sole legitimate president, while the members of the elected parliament have either been imprisoned or displaced. There is also a president who used the force of arms to appoint himself as president, and he does not recognise any legitimacy other than the legitimacy of the rifle. However, this same president, along with other countries that do not even pretend to hold elections, all support the "legitimacy" in Libya, back the "elected" parliament, and reject any opposition to its "legitimacy".

As is the case with Morsi and his supporters, the legitimacy parliament and government in Libya are all imprisoned or in self-imposed exile in a remote city, and most of Libya's territories are outside their control, most importantly Tripoli and Benghazi. However, unlike Morsi, most of the state forces, as well as Libya's neighbours, including the coup-led government in Egypt, swear by the legitimacy of the Tobruk government and parliament. Such legitimacy is similar to the legitimacy of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader, who fled his country for more than half a century and remains in exile.

No one observing modern and ancient Arab history needs to be reminded that the claims of legitimacy cannot be separated from the reality of the balance of power on the ground, and that any legitimacy that becomes the subject of dispute automatically loses a significant amount of its weight. Ultimately, all legitimacy is the product of the balance of power, because there is no such thing as absolute legitimacy for anyone. Many have challenged the legitimacy of the Caliphs and rebelled against them, and even killed them. The Imam Ali bin Abi Talib accepted resignation and left it up to the nation to choose whom they liked, despite his legitimacy, and did so after taking the reality on the ground into consideration and to stop the bloodshed of Muslims. It was this same logic that drove Imam Hassan to strike a deal with Muawiya to avoid fighting.

This is the case of true legitimacy, but when the claim of legitimacy itself is fake, such as Bashar Al-Assad's claim that he is an elected president and Al-Maliki's claim that his removal is a violation of the constitution which has already been trampled, then the matter takes on other aspects and dimensions. In the case of Libya, the "legitimate" parliament and government actually hold false and hypocritical legitimacy, just as is the case when states that have no relation to the dispute interfere in "Libyan affairs". Meanwhile, the false and slanderous government remains silent in the face of flagrant foreign intervention, and even make secret deals practically handing the country over to foreign dictator governments under the pretext of democracy.

Just like Antoine Lahad (leader of pro-Israeli Christian militia in Lebanon), Haftar (the leader of the militia falsely called "Operation Dignity", but should be called Operation Insult Libya and sell it in the slave market) claims that this government aims to liberate the country from the militias, and although this is a noble goal, if it is achieved through political consensus, those who made these claims have turned into the worst and weakest militias. The situation in Libya was much better before these miserable and collaborative militias appeared and claimed they wanted to liberate Libya.

The wonders of our Arab world are endless. The case is similar in Yemen, which is being eaten by extremist militias from every part of the spectrum. The latest development is a sectarian militia's addressing the issue of reducing the subsidies on fuel in order to take over authority. These militias, coming from the dark ages, forget that the foreign support given to Yemen is mostly from the West and Gulf states, and that if their wishes do come true and they dominate the authority, just as Nasrallah's party did, then many Yemenis will die with the outbreak of war or out of starvation due to the cut in support.

It really is the time of farce; the age of coups, as hypocrisy has become the master of all virtues, led by lying. In this day and age, the leaders of resistance and the men of defiance cry bitterly because Washington did not invite them to participate in its war on "terror" (despite their pride in their past terrorist track record). Today, the Islamists (except for those who have been shown mercy by God) have been divided into terrorists who wreak havoc in the world, tyrants who are no less corrupt, and groups of hypocrites who compete with the liberals to cosy up to the tyrants. Nowadays, the judiciary has become a mafia gang taking revenge on the advocates of truth and virtue, or anyone daring to oppose injustice, calling their actions "justice". The biggest terrorists are accusing the innocent of being terrorists and declare those who they fear would affect their terrorism, oppression and corruption as terrorists.

After this analysis, I should presumably present a proposal to address this crisis, just as the UN and international parties advise Yemen, Libya, and others to resolve their problems through dialogue. In principle, this suggestion is valid, because all the claims of legitimacy and the accusations of terrorism are nothing but weapons used by each party to strengthen its position. Everyone is unable to get rid of the other party, and every delay in dialogue is a waste of love, time, and capabilities in the country that is being destroyed before it has to inevitably resort to dialogue.

However, I find myself reluctant to provide such advice because the parties involved are not do-gooders who have strayed or lost their way. They are evildoers who have found what they want. If we warn them and remind them of their hypocritical and deceitful rhetoric, then they are likely to resolve the problem by annihilating themselves and relieving mankind from their evils. This is God's way on Earth, "Verily We shall cause the wrong-doers to perish".

Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 18 September, 2014

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Dr Abdul Wahab Al-Effendi) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:48:53 +0000
Israeli foreign minister asks Kerry to lift US travel warning to Israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14234-israeli-foreign-minister-asks-kerry-to-lift-us-travel-warning-to-israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14234-israeli-foreign-minister-asks-kerry-to-lift-us-travel-warning-to-israel Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asked his American counterpart, John Kerry, to make sure the US lifts a warning issued to its citizens against traveling to Israel, which came in effect during the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

In a statement quoted by PLS48 news website, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Lieberman asked Secretary of State Kerry to tell the State Department to lift its travel warning to Israel, which has continued to be in effect since Operation Protective Edge officially ended. The statement added that, "American citizens should know that there is no reason that prevents them from traveling to Israel, and that they will not be in danger."

Lieberman met with Kerry at the State Department headquarters in Washington DC on Wednesday.

According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Lieberman also told Kerry that: "Israel highly appreciates the US support during Operation Protective Edge and that the Israeli leadership and people know that the US is Israel's best friend."

Regarding the latest developments in the region, Lieberman told Kerry that Israel supports the US in its efforts to form an international alliance against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and that it is willing to provide assistance if requested, taking into account the sensitivity of the participating countries and US needs.

Several Arab countries that are participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Lieberman reportedly said: "The war against terrorism in all its forms is one of the free world's most important tasks today, we cannot differentiate between forms of terrorism."

He then tried to draw a comparison between the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, and the Islamic State, saying that: "Hamas terrorist activities against Israel and against the people of Gaza do not differ from the Islamic State's terrorism," adding that: "The aim of all Islamic terrorism is the same: to destroy Western civilisation. Therefore, just as we cannot negotiate with the Islamic State, we cannot negotiate with Hamas, and as long as Hamas is based in Gaza, there will be no peace or security, and anyone who seeks to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians should put an end to the terror rule within the Palestinian Authority."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:48:13 +0000
One of the two Austrian girls who joined Islamic State feared killed in Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14233-one-of-the-two-austrian-girls-who-joined-islamic-state-feared-killed-in-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14233-one-of-the-two-austrian-girls-who-joined-islamic-state-feared-killed-in-syria One of the two Austrian teenage girls who fled their homes to join the Islamic State in northern Syria has reportedly been killed.

Samra Kesinovic, 16, and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, left their Vienna homes six months ago for Turkey where they are thought to have crossed into northern Syria. Earlier this week, international media widely reported that Kesinovic had been killed fighting in Syria.

However since then, the two young girls have reportedly taken to social media to refute the reports that Kesinovic had been killed, according to the International Business Times.

Austrian media reported that Interior Minister Johanna Michael Litner had informed the girl's family of the possibility of her passing; however, at the same time, the ministry could not confirm for certain whether or not she was actually killed.

The Islamic State has been using the two girls to promote its activities through social networking sites and to attract other teenagers to join the organisation.

Ad-Dustour newspaper reported that before their disappearance, the two teenagers left a letter for their families, in which they told them that: "We are following the right path. We travelled to fight in Syria for Islam. Do not try to look for us. We will fight for Allah and die for Him... See you in paradise".

The father of one of the two girls is reported to have travelled to Turkey looking for his daughter, but to no avail.

Recently, images of the two girls appeared on Twitter wearing the face veil and surrounded by Islamic State fighters. In one of the images, one girl appeared to be carrying a Kalashnikov.

In recent Tweets, Kesinovic and Selimovic spoke about their new life in Syria, saying: "No one will ever find us." The girls added that they were planning to marry jihadists to become holy fighters.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:42:54 +0000
Hamas leader: Consensus government is failing in its duties https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14232-hamas-leader-consensus-government-is-failing-its-duties https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14232-hamas-leader-consensus-government-is-failing-its-duties Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior member of the political bureau of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, said that the Palestinian consensus government has so far "failed" in its duties and suggested for the Palestinians to think of other alternatives after the end of its legal term, Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

Al-Zahar added, during a political meeting that was organised by the Forum of Media Professionals in the Gaza Strip, that: "The government of consensus has not achieved any of its duties and is failing miserably. We will give the government six months, which represents the term that was agreed upon, and then we will think of alternatives, because we cannot let the Palestinian people be controlled by those who cannot bring any achievements." He did not elaborate on any of these alternatives.

Speaking about Israel's latest assault on Gaza, Al-Zahar said that all the parties that donated aid to the resistance is a partner in its victory, be it Iran or any other party. He pointed out that "Iran provided funds that strengthened the resistance, its military action and the development of technology, and thus Iran is a partner in our victory."

Al-Zahar stressed that his movement does not interfere in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, noting that things have relatively improved with Egypt after the Israeli aggression. He also ruled out the possibility of Israel launching new war against the Palestinians in Gaza in the near future, because the Gaza Strip has now become a taboo among the Israeli army, thanks to the resistance.

After nearly seven years of division, Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement on 23 April that included the formation of a consensus government for a period of six months, followed by legislative and presidential elections with a national council established.

On 2 June, the Palestinian factions formed the consensus government and the ministers were sworn in before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Nevertheless, this government has not received any real responsibilities until today, and since the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip ended on 26 August, a renewed state of tension has emerged in the relations between Hamas and Fatah, with the two groups exchanging allegations about a number of issues.

Among the most prominent of conflicts between the two movements, which are considered to be the two largest factions in the Palestinian arena, is the non-payment of the salaries of employees of the previous Hamas government in Gaza, which has been justified by the consensus government after "warnings" were received from donor countries against paying any money to those employees, in addition to the imposition of residential restrictions against the leader of the Fatah movement in Gaza, a charge that was denied by Hamas.

On 7 July, Israel launched an intensive war on the Gaza Strip, which lasted for 51 days and caused the deaths of 2,157 Palestinians, mostly civilians, injuring more than 11,000 others, according to Palestinian medical sources. Israeli airstrikes also completely destroyed 9,000 homes and partially destroyed about 8,000 more, according to the statistics of the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

The Palestinian and Israeli sides reached, on 26 August, a long-term truce under Egyptian auspices, which included a ceasefire and the opening of the commercial crossings with Gaza. The remaining contentious issues were to be discussed within a month of the agreement, notably the exchange of prisoners and the re-opening of Gaza's seaport and airport.

However, three weeks after the ceasefire agreement was in place, Palestinian officials say that the procedures for lifting the blockade on Gaza have still not begun and that the commercial traffic at the crossings has not witnessed any change.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:34:40 +0000
Egyptian journalist sends message to Obama https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14231-egyptian-journalist-sends-message-to-obama https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14231-egyptian-journalist-sends-message-to-obama Salah Bedewy, an Egyptian journalist, has sent a message to US President Barack Obama concerning his cooperation with the Egyptian coup-leader and president, Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, in the West's war against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In a letter that he published on his Facebook page, Bedewy told Obama that: "The true [enemy] is in Egypt, and its leader is Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, but you are doing like the ostriches—hiding your heads in the sand in hatred of Islam."

He cautioned the US president that if this policy continues, "You are going to pay an expensive price for it, as long as you do not follow the right path for combating terrorism in the region, which is represented by state tyranny."

The journalist rhetorically asked, "How many Egyptians have been cut into pieces and slaughtered at the hands of Al-Sisi and his gang, with their bodies being burnt, their families raped and left in prisons?" He added: "And how many Iraqis were slaughtered like sheep, raped and lost their dignity at the hands of your own tyranny."

Bedawy reminded Obama that, "We belong to a great Islamic religion which teaches us that human blood is illegal to spill," before warning, "Unfortunately, you may wake up after it is already too late."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:29:17 +0000
Israeli forces enter Gaza for third time since the truce https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14230-israeli-forces-enter-gaza-for-third-time-since-the-truce https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14230-israeli-forces-enter-gaza-for-third-time-since-the-truce Israeli forces entered the outskirts of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, this morning to complete what they called "security activity" at the barrier around the Strip, eye witnesses reported.

Witnesses said: "Four Israeli bulldozers set off this morning from Kissufim military base, and penetrated 100 meters east of the town of Al-Qarara, north of Khan Yunis."

According to witnesses, the bulldozers dredged agricultural land near the town before leaving.

Israeli Army Radio quoted unnamed military sources as saying that the Israeli army this morning carried out "security activity" by examining the border area with Khan Yunis.

The incursion is the third on the borders of the Gaza Strip since the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and Israel on August 26, brokered by Egypt, after the Israeli war which lasted 51 days.

Over the past two weeks, Israel has carried out similar activities on the outskirts of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:27:59 +0000
Houthi militants in Yemen make their way to Sanaa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14229-houthi-militants-in-yemen-make-their-way-to-sanaa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14229-houthi-militants-in-yemen-make-their-way-to-sanaa IMAGES

Houthi militants clashed on Thursday with the Yemeni army on the outskirts of the capital city of Sanaa, in the northwest of the country, ushering an escalation of the fighting and street protests that have now been taking place for weeks.

Residents in the north western district of Shamlan told Reuters news agency that Houthi insurgents are now advancing towards Thalatheen Street, which is the main road leading to the western edge of the city.

According to Al-Quds newspaper, a military source said that Houthi gunmen also attacked an army camp at the southern entrance to the capital, but the Yemeni soldiers successfully repelled the attack.

Yemeni sources have revealed that Iranian efforts, mediated by Oman, are now being made to reach an agreement between the Houthi movement and the Yemeni state to end the latest round of fighting between the rebel group and the tribes backed by the army.

[widgetkit id=407]

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:20:37 +0000
Islamic TV stations organise global campaign against ISIS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14228-islamic-tv-stations-organise-global-campaign-against-isis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14228-islamic-tv-stations-organise-global-campaign-against-isis VIDEO

A global Islamic campaign entitled "ISIS, the ignorance of the Kharijites, and penetrating the intelligence" has been aired on more than 25 Islamic satellite channels starting yesterday evening and lasting a week, in a unified move which includes the participation of elite scholars and preachers from Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.

Saudi channel Iqraa and Egyptian station Al-Rahma took part in the unified move which will discuss ISIS' origins and support.

The shows will cover the intervention of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, and many photographic and exclusive reports to support the objectives of the campaign, which warns of "extremist ideology and Kharijites' beliefs in particular".

Translation of video:

Watch the campaign "ISIS, the ignorance of the Kharijites, and penetrating the intelligence", an awareness campaign which renown scholars are taking part in to discuss the dangers of this extreme ideology that does not follow the teaching of Islam and its impact on the Arab and Islamic world.

The campaign will begin on Thursday 23 Dhu Al-Qa'da [yesterday] from 9pm until 11:30pm every evening for a week.

A whole host of satellite channels are taking part in broadcasting the campaign.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:11:04 +0000
Israeli analyst: army used massive, wasteful firepower in Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14227-israeli-analyst-army-used-massive-wasteful-firepower-in-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14227-israeli-analyst-army-used-massive-wasteful-firepower-in-gaza The Israeli army used disproportionately huge amounts of firepower in Gaza, according to leading security and military affairs analyst Amos Harel, writing in today's Haaretz newspaper.

Examining the Israeli military's request for $2.35 billion to cover the war's "direct expenses", Harel claims that "the management of the war displayed wastefulness, both in the use of firepower and in the number of reservists called up".

Harel cites the findings of the Brodet Committee, established after the 2006 Lebanon War, which found that the IDF had used "a large surplus of firepower" and fired at "a great many targets... with little to show for it". Harel notes that the IDF fired more than 170,000 artillery shells at suspected rocket-launching sites in Lebanon – without killing "a single Hezbollah combatant".

This summer in Gaza, Harel writes, "the general approach was unchanged".

Most of the information about this is classified, though defense establishment sources do confirm that intensive use was made of vital stocks of firepower and munitions. And this, we should remember, was in a conflict with Hamas, Israel's weakest regional enemy...

Harel claims that Hamas "inflicted many casualties" on IDF forces through "explosive devices and long-distance sharpshooting", as opposed to "face-to-face battles" or "antitank missiles".

In the face of this threat, the army used massive firepower, from artillery to hand grenades and light arms, not to mention tanks and, of course, precise aerial munitions. Veteran army people who perused the final data were surprised at what they saw.

The article also cites an anonymous senior officer in the Israeli military's General Staff on the army's need for substantial levels of munitions. In Gaza, the high-ranking official said, "you have to fire at every window that is overlooking and threatening your forces". Such comments will add to the evidence that the Israeli army committed war crimes in Gaza through the deliberate use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:08 +0000
Barghouti praises Palestinian victory in Gaza war and calls to expand resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14226-barghouti-praises-palestinian-victory-in-gaza-war-and-calls-to-expand-resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14226-barghouti-praises-palestinian-victory-in-gaza-war-and-calls-to-expand-resistance The jailed Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, has called the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip a victory for the Palestinians and stressed that efforts should now focus on mobilising the boycott of Israel's continued occupation of Palestine.

Barghouti is serving a life sentence in Israeli jails. In comments to Reuters news agency, he called to expand the confrontation with Israel and to develop a strategy that is significantly different from the cautious approach adopted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Arabs48 news website further quoted him as saying: "The Palestinians must make Israel pay a heavy price," adding that "Freedom in Palestine will not be realised until the launching of a wider resistance campaign associated with a broader political, economic and security boycott of the [Israeli] occupation."

Without referring to Hamas, Barghouti praised the resistance for the 51 days of war fought against Israel by the Palestinian factions in Gaza and described it as a victory for all Palestinians. "We consider that the battle represents a victory for the resistance. It has proven that Israel cannot and does not have the ability to resolve the conflict [with the Palestinians] by military force, and that the only way to end the conflict is to end the occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967."

Barghouti called to strengthen the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the Israeli occupation as a prelude to isolating it internationally with sanctions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has left the door open to the possibility of resuming peace talks with Israel, despite the collapse of the last round of talks after nearly a year of negotiations. However, Barghouthi called it useless to continue the negotiations with Israel, noting that: "Negotiations with Israel failed over 20 years to achieve freedom, return [of the Palestinian refugees who lost their homes in 1948] and independence."

Barghouti concluded by saying: "I do not see that Israel is ready for real peace, but instead it wants to use fruitless negotiations to continue its occupation and settlement and to ease its growing international isolation."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:56:48 +0000
Life and Death in a Palestinian Zoo https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14225-life-and-death-in-a-palestinian-zoo https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14225-life-and-death-in-a-palestinian-zoo EXCLUSIVE IMAGES

Palestinian tourist infrastructure is minimal, as is the number of international tourists aside from pilgrims and the 'conflict tourists' who break their holidays in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem for a day trip to see the 'other side'. Those who do visit the West Bank rarely venture away from Bethlehem or Ramallah. But encircled by the Apartheid Wall, an hour or so north of Ramallah, the small town of Qalqilya hosts the West Bank's only zoo. Far from the conventional modern safari parks of Europe or the US, and despite its initial rather shabby appearance, for those willing to scratch the surface and uncover it's stories Qalqilya Zoo is a unique experience.

Until the Second Intifada, the zoo was a popular attraction for families keen to see giraffes, zebras, hippopotamuses and other assorted creatures that they had previously only seen in books. By 2002, with Qalqilya under daily Israeli attack, the zoo's resident veterinarian Dr. Sami Khader felt compelled to add a new string to the bow of his already overloaded workload. As tear gas and Israeli bullets filled the town's streets, they also began to spill over in to the zoo's compound. One night, as Israeli soldiers entered the zoo whilst shooting, animals panicked and 'Rudy' the prized male giraffe hit his head against an iron bar and fell. Rudy soon died of a stroke due to a build up of blood pressure caused by the accident. Rudy's partner, 'Brownie', fell in to a deep depression after seeing her dead mate and miscarried the baby she was carrying. When tear gas again filled the zoo's air, Brownie suffocated and died. It was at this stage that Dr. Sami decided to become a taxidermist:

'I spent most of my time here during and just after the intifada working on taxidermy. The first giraffe took me 6 months alone. Nothing is wasted here and this is what we have, we need to preserve everything so that people can learn about animals'.

Today, the few visitors who do reach the zoo can see an array of live animals and also visit Dr. Sami's other 'attractions' including the museum of stuffed animals. Alongside the giraffes are a zebra, jungle cat and others that died during the intifada, as well as various animals that succumbed to natural causes.

This rather macabre collection does not dominate the zoo's current life however. In more recent years Dr. Sami has also established an animal hospital, and local people often bring him injured animals to treat. His belief is that the educational role that the zoo can provide for Palestinian children is paramount, and he is full of big ideas:

"We care for injured animals, preserve dead animals, look after live animals and I want to create so much more for the children. Most of my time now is spent developing educational opportunities and working with groups of school children, helping them to learn more about wildlife. I want to create an earthquake simulator and put together a whale skeleton that people can walk inside, but all this takes time, space and money."

Being established in 1986 - before the Oslo Accords - the zoo was built whilst Qalqilya was under full Israeli civil and military control. Dr. Sami was once asked by an Israeli zoologist if the animals were owned by Israel or Palestine. He answered metaphorically:

"Animals don't need borders..."

[widgetkit id=404]

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Rich Wiles) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:25:26 +0000
BBC's new "Head of Statistics" twists casualty figures to whitewash Gaza massacre https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14224-bbcs-new-qhead-of-statisticsq-twists-casualty-figures-to-whitewash-gaza-massacre https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14224-bbcs-new-qhead-of-statisticsq-twists-casualty-figures-to-whitewash-gaza-massacre An open letter to the BBC's Director General, written by Palestine solidarity activists, is calling for the removal of BBC journalist Anthony Reuben from all reporting on Palestine following the publication of an online article in which he attempts to sanitize Israel's killing in Gaza.

Reuben is the BBC's "Head of Statistics," a role created in February, he claims in his Linkedin profile, specifically for him.

Writing as "Head of Statistics" in August, Reuben authored an article for the BBC website headlined "Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures."

When he wrote the article, 1,948 Palestinians had been killed in Israel's assault on Gaza, the majority of them men.

Reuben uses the fact that more men than women had been killed as an opportunity to argue that Israel was carrying out targeted attacks, aimed only at fighting men, and wasn't pursuing the wholesale slaughter of civilians and the wanton destruction of homes and infrastructure.

He writes: "If the Israeli attacks had been ‘indiscriminate,' as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women."

BBC gives credence to Israeli claims

It is an incredibly twisted use of statistics in an attempt to spin a story so it backs up the claims of the Israeli government, claims which were being visibly destroyed on television screens and social media on a daily basis.

So why did a supposedly impartial BBC journalist feel the need to try and give credence to those claims?

The answer may lie in Reuben's journalistic background. His Linkedin profile shows that he completed an internship at The Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper which is vocal in its support of Israel's occupation.

In the open letter to the BBC's director general, Palestine Solidarity Campaign writes: "The views which are apparent in that Israeli newspaper appear to have seeped into Reuben's reporting for the BBC. What is more, his writing for the BBC has been quoted approvingly in other right-wing Israeli press, including Times of Israel and Ynet."

The letter, which is now available on PSC's website for the public to sign, and will be delivered on 29 September, adds: "We therefore call on the BBC to assure its audiences that Reuben will no longer be assigned to reporting on Palestine and Israel, as his impartiality and journalistic integrity on this subject cannot be guaranteed."

"Appalling journalism"

In the meantime, Reuben continues to write about Gaza for the publicly funded broadcaster. This month, he contributed to an online article titled "Gaza crisis: toll of operations in Gaza," and links to the one he wrote in August.

This is despite the fact that the August article was condemned by Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, as "an appalling piece of journalism." Gunness was quoted in the British print magazine Private Eye. The article, in the "Media News" section, is not available online.

UNRWA complained to the BBC about Reuben's twisted interpretation of the death toll statistics, and his offending sentence ("If the Israeli attacks had been ‘indiscriminate,' as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women") was removed from the article several days later.

An attempt was also made to insert some balance into the previously one-sided piece, with comments added in from academic Jana Krause explaining that Palestinian men were more likely to be killed than women, not because they were fighters, but because they left shelters to search for food and water and to care for abandoned homes.

However, the fact remains that the BBC, with a stated commitment to balanced and accurate reporting written into its Royal Charter, was willing to publish Reuben's article in its original form and present it to its audiences as impartial journalism.

Are children fighters too?

The BBC has foisted Israeli and pro-Israel commentators, masquerading as independent experts, on its audiences at times of full-scale Israeli attacks on Gaza.

These allegedly neutral commentators would be used in various ways. During Israel's November 2012 assault, Guglielmo Verdirame, a professor in international law at Kings College, London, wrote an article for the BBC justifying the attack in legal terms.

Verdirame has also been used by the British-Danish security firm G4S to write a report which attempts to vindicate the company's involvement in the Israeli prisons where Palestinians, including children, are held and tortured.

In July this year, three weeks into Israel's most recent assault, the BBC published an article by Eado Hecht which defends Israel's attacks by providing florid, but unsubstantiated, descriptions of tunnels in Gaza "booby-trapped with explosives."

Readers were not informed by the BBC that Hecht is a lecturer at the Israeli military's Command and General Staff College.

With Reuben, the BBC appears to have gone one step further, pushing onto its global audiences a supposedly independent staff journalist who may not be as impartial as he should be.

Reuben could have crunched the tragic statistics on Palestinian children killed by Israel in Gaza — 456 dead when his article was published on 8 August — in order to come to a more realistic conclusion on whether Israel's attacks were indiscriminate or targeted solely at fighters. But he chose not to.

More children were killed than women — 237 women had been killed at that stage. What conclusions would the BBC's "Head of Statistics" draw from that figure? That the children, like the men who were also killed in greater numbers than the women, were fighters too?

Large portions of Gaza were decimated by Israel during July and August, reduced to rubble. Towns were flattened, entire families wiped out, water sources destroyed and UN shelters bombed at night.

And during all this, Anthony Reuben, a BBC journalist, used his position to try and spin the story that Israel was doing its best to wage a limited war. And the BBC let him.

There are, the saying goes, lies, damned lies and statistics. And there is also Anthony Reuben and the BBC. When it comes to reporting on Palestine, beware of them both.

This article was first published on the Electronic Intifada on 18th September 2014

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Amena Saleem) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:54:21 +0000
If the MB is found to be law-abiding, then UK government should respect that https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14223-if-the-mb-is-found-to-be-law-abiding-then-uk-government-should-respect-that https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14223-if-the-mb-is-found-to-be-law-abiding-then-uk-government-should-respect-that Founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest pan-Arab political and religious movement. A conservative, communitarian organisation made up of various regional affiliates that undertake social work as well as political activities, it is capable of mobilising significant support in populations across the region. Accordingly, it has long been seen as a threat by various governments in the Middle East and has undergone many periods of repression over the years. That changed after the Arab Spring, when Brotherhood-affiliated organisations were voted into power in various countries after dictators were toppled. Most notably, the group came to power in Egypt in 2012, before being ousted in a military coup last year.

Since Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's Brotherhood president, was deposed, the military-backed government has designated the group a terrorist organisation, jailing its leaders, staging mass arrests of its supporters, and blaming it for a number of attacks. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, two of Britain's closest diplomatic and commercial allies in the region, have also carried out similar actions against the group. Like Egypt, Saudi Arabia banned it altogether.

Repression is nothing new for a movement that has, for many years, had to operate underground. Many members of the Brotherhood in Egypt have sought refuge overseas, in London, Istanbul and Doha. The group – which has had a presence in the UK since 1995 – apparently maintains its headquarters in London.

Earlier this year, Downing Street announced: "The prime minister has commissioned an internal government review into the philosophy and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood and the government's policy towards the organisation."

It was widely thought that this inquiry was commissioned at least partly because of pressure from Britain's allies in the Gulf, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In addition to this, of course, any suggestion of terrorist activity is enough to trigger prompt action from the British government, which is keen to avoid a return to the situation of the 1990s, when London was seen as a haven for Islamists. But the decision to hold an inquiry was controversial; some analysts and government figures warned that designating a conservative but non-violent movement a terrorist organisation would alienate its supporters and backfire by pushing them towards violent extremism.

The inquiry, carried out by Sir John Jenkins, was completed at the end of July, but the publication has been delayed. Reports on why this might be differ. The Financial Times claimed in August that the government put off publication because its main conclusion – that the Muslim Brotherhood should not be classified as a terrorist organisation and banned – is at odds with the outlook of key allies such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed Whitehall official as saying: "Sir John will say that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organisation. The Saudis and Emiratis will then be very upset with us." It also quoted an anonymous Foreign Office official describing intense pressure from the royal family of Abu Dhabi.

Yet others have directly contradicted the suggestion that the report found no evidence at all of prohibited activity. This week, the Daily Telegraph reported that the inquiry, though stopping short of proposing a ban, found that some of the movement's activity amounts to complicity with armed groups and extremists in the Middle East and elsewhere. The newspaper quotes a Foreign Office official as saying: "We won't ban the Muslim Brotherhood. There are other things that can be done but not a ban." The Telegraph also alleged that parts of the report were too sensitive to publish.

One of the main areas investigated by Jenkins was Muslim Brotherhood charities in the UK that are being scrutinised by the Charity Commission. The Commission has opened inquiries into alleged suspicions over funding to overseas terrorist organisations by at least three British-based Muslim Brotherhood charities. The Telegraph report suggests that as well as potential action on these organisations, political activities such as media and propaganda branches could be more tightly regulated.

Downing Street has said in a statement that the report will be published at the end of the year; until this happens, it will be impossible to know which leaks are true and which are exaggerated. However, the government should tread carefully; even those who have no ideological sympathy with the Brotherhood should avoid being complicit in its repression. This is something that sections of the British government are well aware of. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has previously warned against proscribing the Brotherhood on the basis that restricting a non-violent group risks enforcing the argument of armed religious fighters: that victory will be attained by bullets, not the ballot box. If the group has upheld the laws of Britain, then any measures taken by the government should reflect that fact.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Samira Shackle) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:46:04 +0000
The agreement of humiliation and shame https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14222-the-agreement-of-humiliation-and-shame https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14222-the-agreement-of-humiliation-and-shame The Oslo agreement was built upon all of the Palestinian political, social and economic resources. It is now twenty-one years old and has not succeeded in achieving even the minimum that was expected of it, except for the establishment of a corrupt and incompetent Palestinian Authority that is unable to manage the most basic portfolios. Oslo has given us only division and shame, causing many honest Arabs and Muslims to lose much of their faith in our central cause.

When the acknowledgement letters were exchanged between the PLO and Israel it was considered by the latter to be a Trojan horse which the occupation brought into the Arab world in order to achieve peacefully what it could not achieve militarily over the years of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Oslo changed it into a Palestinian-Israeli conflict with an Arab audience.

It also created a narrow horizon for ending the conflict through the accord in line with the provisions of the Memorandum of Agreement. To do this it established a national authority, a Palestinian entity that enjoys a degree of autonomy although it is less than a state. This is how it was described by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the time, when he put Oslo to the Knesset for approval on 6 October 1995, after the signing of the Paris Protocol and the Cairo agreement regarding "Gaza and Jericho first", and the transfer of powers from Israel to the Palestinian National Authority.

Rabin announced that the aim of this agreement was to stop the transformation of Israel into a bi-national state, through the establishment of an entity that is less than a state next to the Zionist state. He stressed that there would be no return to the 1967 borders; Jerusalem would be united by and for Israel; settlements would be annexed; and secure borders for Israel in the Jordan Valley would be guaranteed.

Despite the assassination of Rabin a month after that session, and the rise of the extreme right, headed by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who objected to Oslo, the right-wing was not in a hurry to cancel it. In fact, Netanyahu himself continued the negotiations process with the Palestinians and, two years later, signed the Hebron agreement while stating three points for the completion of the Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, which were identified as areas (A) that are under full Palestinian control; the rest of the West Bank areas remained under Israeli security and civil administration.

Even though the right-wing announced its rejection of the agreement, Israel was keen on keeping the flame of Oslo alive, along with the hope of reaching a true peace deal, so that the cancellation of the accord would not lead to the end of negotiations on other matters. Nor would there be a return to an international conference for peace with international guarantees.

Over the past twenty years, Oslo has provided Israel with international legitimacy that enabled it to continue building and expanding its settlements throughout the years of negotiations. It also got international legitimacy and American support, along with Arab silence, for the reoccupation of West Bank cities during the aggressive Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, and the besieging of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat under the pretext of fighting terrorism. During all of these changes and developments, between rounds of negotiations and the George W Bush road map, Israel has not thought for one moment to cancel the Oslo agreement. Why should it? Oslo has given it a safety net by speaking of its continuous "willingness" to reach a settlement with the Palestinians while doubling its conditions and making them even stricter.

The number of settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem has gone up from nearly 60,000 before the Oslo agreement to 100,000 after signing the accord and 600,000 by 2012. Various failures in the negotiations by successive Israeli prime ministers, from Ehud Barak at Camp David, Ariel Sharon withdrawing from Gaza, and talks in Annapolis led by Ehud Olmert, all caused a shift to the right in Israeli politics. Right-wing religious parties such as Shas, United Torah Judaism and NRP have gained support at the expense of the Israeli left. Calls were made for coalition governments not to rely on Arab support in the Knesset so that the experience of the Rabin regime would not be repeated.

After twenty-one years, the Oslo agreement continues to serve Israeli interests, mainly in security with the full support and coordination of the Palestinian Authority. There is nothing left from the agreement except this issue, which has transformed the PA into an agent that pledges to protect the safety of the occupation and stops any third Palestinian uprising.

Thank you Oslo. Thank you for the years of humiliation and shame which have reduced Palestinian ambitions to a small portion of our historic homeland while we must forget about Jerusalem and the return of the refugees, let alone what is left of our dignity.

Translated from Felesteen, newspaper, 14 September, 2014

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Hesham Munawer) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:42:29 +0000
Egypt issues 187 legislations in under a year https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14221-egypt-issues-187-legislations-in-under-a-year https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14221-egypt-issues-187-legislations-in-under-a-year The Egyptian government is reported to have passed the highest number of legislations this year, in the absence of a parliament, which analysts believe will have weak opposition once elected before the end of 2014.

The government has so far issued 187 legislations varied between new and modified laws including economic and criminal laws as well as the new Suez Canal project, according to Adel Amer, head of the Egyptians Centre for Political and Economic and Legal Studies.

Amer told Masr Al-Arabia news website that Article 154 of the new Constitution grants the ruling regime the right to issue legislations in the absence of parliament on the condition of extreme necessity and/or in the face imminent danger.

He said the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the House of Representatives once formed are the authorities that would determine if there is necessity to issue these legislations.

He explained that all the legislations will be presented to the new parliament within 15 days of its formation which in turn has the right to adopt, amend or reject them.

Amer believes the new parliament will pass the legislations as long as the new government and the regime believe there was necessity to issue them.

Dr Mukhtar Mohamed Ghobashi, deputy head of the Arab Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said the current regime will not face any opposition from the new parliament.

He explained that the opposition in the parliament will only be represented by the Nour Party and the pro-presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi bloc and that both teams will not reap many seats to be able to form fierce opposition to the regime.

Ghobashi pointed out that the remaining parties will favour the regime and approve its legislations.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:37:17 +0000
Tulkarem chemical factory exploits Palestinian labour and health https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14220-tulkarem-chemical-factory-exploits-palestinian-labour-and-health https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14220-tulkarem-chemical-factory-exploits-palestinian-labour-and-health

It is a well-known yet understated fact that Israel uses Palestinian land and its civilian population to test military innovations and "cutting edge" crowd control techniques. However, there is an issue often side-tracked, whether intentionally or not, that deals with the use of cheap Palestinian labour in Israel's growing industrial market.

The settlement industrial zones in Area C of the West Bank house chemical factories that have grown into powerful and lethal means of oppression for the communities that they smother. There are now 11 factories in the Tulkarem area, all of which are on internationally-recognised occupied Palestinian land within the 1967 borders, displaying a ruthless disregard for the rights of the residents who have to live with the horrific smell, constant threat of land theft, and the health risks that come with proximity to such harmful substances.

Israel's economic interests guide much of its behaviour towards Palestinians and their land; none is more overt than the placing of these factories in and around the villages of Tulkarem. Palestinians in Area C already suffer from Israeli military and civil control, leaving room for almost total impunity and virtually no means of redress. Living under military occupation and a hostile government the people here have already suffered their fair share of human rights violations.

The location of the factories in the West Bank means that they are staffed almost exclusively by Palestinians. The encroaching wall and subsequent restrictions on movement in the area mean that employment opportunities are extremely limited and agriculture, once a sustainable source of income, is now the only option, and not a profitable one. Since the arrival of the industrial zones farming has become not only dangerous for those that do it and for those that consume its produce, but it has also evolved to become a form of resistance against persistent theft of land and the poisonous substances that are released as waste. In order for the communities to survive in the shadows of the factories they must turn to them for employment. This is a cruel irony for those who have suffered so much from their presence in the first place.

This method of asserting authority over an oppressed population certainly has its psychological effects but there are also the enticing economic benefits of having a Palestinian workforce that Israel seemingly cannot resist. Adeeb Mohammed Awad lives very close to one of the Nitzanei Shalom factories; he told me that the workers are paid 150 shekels per day, which is the equivalent of £25. To put this into context, this means that an employee would have to work more than 7 days a week just in order to earn the Israeli national minimum wage of 4,300 shekels a month.

This is, in fact, just one example of Israel's exploitation of non-Israeli workers. Though it is easy to jump to the conclusion that it is treatment reserved only for the Palestinian labour force, this would be to misunderstand the infrastructure of Israel's labour market. Kav LaOved, an Israeli NGO that works to protect the rights of the most disadvantaged workers in Israel, paints a bleak picture of the state's attitudes to equal rights.

Of course the Palestinian problem transcends just labour rights; it encompasses the denial of an official nationality and the subsequent protection afforded by it. Palestinians employed in the industrial zones are stuck in a sort of limbo where they qualify for employment but not for legal protection from their employers. As long as they exist in this vacuum without protection, they are a great source of cheap labour for Israel. When questioned about the poor pay in the factories, the most common response from employers has been that it is a higher wage than in the rest of the West Bank. Indeed, the location of the factories within settlements close to the buffer zone means that Israel could and does argue that they have no responsibility for the people working there as they are beyond the green line, whilst also reaping the economic benefits of their location outside Israel proper.

Settlement factory workers have been protected under the Israeli Labour Law since 2007 when a precedent-setting decision was made unanimously by nine presiding judges. This meant that Palestinian or migrant workers in Israeli settlements would no longer fall under the Jordanian Labour Law, under which they were afforded little or no protection. If upheld, this law would ensure a minimum wage equal to that of Israelis, annual leave, sick days, compensation for injury, overtime pay and the possibility of taking companies to court if they do not comply. Workers currently receive none of these "benefits" and it is common practice to fire workers who complain.

On speaking to two families living in the shadows of the Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone, I was surprised to discover to what extent the Israeli law had not changed anything for the employees of the factories and those living around them. In fact, it was some time after speaking to Adeeb Awad and Fayez Odeh that I came across the supposed change of 2007, having previously assumed, like most others, that the Jordanian Labour Law was largely to answer for the employees' total lack of redress and appalling working conditions. Adeeb Awad told me in error that workers do fall under Jordanian Labour Law and therefore have no health or injury insurance, no rights; international standards (ISO) are not met in the factories and they cannot take their employers to court. However, labourers in the settlements have officially been under Israeli law for 7 years and a complete absence of visible change is demonstrated here by Adeeb's assumption that they are not. It offers up a stark reminder of the impunity with which Israel operates in the occupied territories.

Though conditions remain bleak and change seems unlikely, the years following 2007 saw Kav LaOved take several cases to court, suing certain factories for non-compliance. Though largely unfruitful, collective court cases do have some impact in helping to draw a line over what companies can get away with without some backlash. Nevertheless, accounts of the conditions of the villages where these factories have been planted demonstrate how much more needs to be done.

Fayez Odeh has become a minor celebrity among activists and the local media for turning his energy into making his farm organic. By publicising his struggle against a severely poisoned environment he has obtained lots of media coverage and an influx of activists and volunteers from across the globe. In Palestine he is a pioneer of organic methods already used globally, and by turning his home into a public space filled with a constant stream of international volunteers he has done all he can to protect his diminishing land.

He has suffered continuously since 1985 when the first factory, Geshori, was moved from Netanya in Israel to his village after a court case closed it down due to the complaints of local residents about smell. Interestingly, the land was obtained in the first place as the owner of the orchard was abroad at the time; such land grab techniques were common in the aftermath of the 1967 war. Odeh explained that the industrial area targeted 3 farms including his own, a second and the orchard that is now imprisoned behind the Israeli apartheid wall.

To-date, he has resisted both peacefully and with direct action. Since 1985 he has personally visited the manager of the company, attempted to sue it and paid for the testing of the substances found on his farm. He has made a documentary, approached international organisations and testified at the Human Rights Council in London and Brussels, all to no avail. He explained the changes to his town and the environment that the factory has created around him: "In the early days, black water was dumped onto neighbouring lands. If any animal fell into it, it would be dissolved immediately." This prompted him to approach the Agricultural Research Centre in search of information on chemical waste and attend workshops on the subject. He began to notice white powder lying on his crops and surfaces in the town that is still there today. One week later all of his trees and crops had perished.

In desperation the residents attempted to damage the factory but Odeh soon realised that this was ineffective and dangerous when several attempts were made on his life. He was shot at repeatedly by guards and bulldozers tried to run him over. His crops were sprayed with poison, his fields were flattened and his water supply was cut off. He said that all of these incidents have been documented by the Palestinian-Israeli coordination office, though this means little in effective terms.

Tulkarem has the highest cancer rate in Palestine and medical research has been carried out in the area. However, it is not sufficient to be conclusive and more needs to be done in order to prevent the environmental and human destruction that these industrial zones are still causing.

A study by the Ministry of Health in Tulkarem has compared figures from Nablus and Tulkarem and found serious discrepancies between the two: instances of leukaemia, cancer and lymphoma were, at the time of the study, five times higher in Tulkarem than Nablus and 20 per cent of all cancer and leukaemia cases in the West Bank come from Tulkarem, despite the population amounting to just 5 per cent of the total. In addition, a detailed study was carried out by An-Najah University which discovered, among other things, a much higher level of respiratory impairment in children: "We believe that lead is a major air pollutant in the study areas as the Israeli industrial zone is involved in paint production in addition to the melting of painted materials used for filtration in agriculture. Thus, lead may account for the finding of the high prevalence of respiratory-related disease symptoms among younger age groups." This alone suggests that there is an urgent need for further research and action. The study also documented the following signs of air contamination: the smell, intensity of smoke and existence of brownish spots, which in turn suggest the existence of a high level of oxides which leads to various respiratory problems, including higher susceptibility to infection.

It is not difficult to conclude that the location of the Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone is a political matter. Adeeb Awad, a resident who has recently built a house away from the factory in order to protect his family, believes that it is a mechanism employed to push Palestinians further and further from the border by making life intolerable. He has three children, all suffering from diseases such as pneumonia and chronic eye infections, and has planted trees all around his house in order to filter out the chemical dust and fumes. It is reported widely that the factory closes when the wind blows towards an Israeli settlement on the other side of the factory.

The industrial zones are still growing and the employees and residents remain in a dangerous and uncertain situation. Unless the agreed 1967 borders are enforced this growth will continue and the status quo will remain or get worse. In order to protect the Palestinian people from a government that does not want them, there must be accountability that is enforced from the outside. Asking Israeli corporations to implement their own law in the West Bank, where they are intentionally hidden from view, will not have any great effect. The Palestinian Authority must clamp down on the settlement industry as it grows to become an institutionalised element of the Israeli economy, once again at the expense of the Palestinians.

Also read: Spring time in Tulkarem as farms fight Israeli chemical factories

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Scarlett Kutyla) frontpage Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:19:27 +0000
51 Egyptian students jailed https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14219-51-egyptian-students-jailed https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14219-51-egyptian-students-jailed Egyptian flagTwo separate Egyptian courts yesterday sentenced 51 anti-coup activists, including six female students, for periods ranging from three to five years in prison.

At the same time, the Egyptian Public Prosecutor ordered the release of 116 minors who were being held in custody after joining public gatherings.

According to judicial sources, the state security criminal court in Al-Buhairah sentenced 35 anti-coup activists to terms of between three to five years over accusations of breaching the demonstration law and hindering the work of state institutions.

Meanwhile, Nasr Misdemeanour Court sentenced 16 anti-coup students, including six females to four years in prison. They were convicted of carrying out "riots" inside Al-Azhar University in January.

Most the Egyptian universities witnessed almost daily anti-coup demonstrations which the police violently cracked down on, killing and wounding tens of demonstrators and arresting hundreds.

A number of students were expelled from university after they took part in demonstrations.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:22:09 +0000
US Congress pledges $500m to train and equip Syrian rebels https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14218-us-congress-pledges-500m-to-train-and-equip-syrian-rebels https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14218-us-congress-pledges-500m-to-train-and-equip-syrian-rebels Barackl ObamaUS Congress has approved $500 million to support President Barack Obama's plan to arm and equip five to 10,000 Syrian rebels which Washington describes as "moderate" in their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and Syrian regime forces which killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said that "I strongly believe that the president needs the support of Congress for this entire mission."

According to media reports, General Lloyd Austin will oversee the military campaign against ISIS group amid increasing controversy over the limits of the US military involvement in the campaign.

Yesterday, Obama met with military officials at US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, to discuss the fight against ISIS as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey about the possibility of deploying US ground forces if the airstrikes against the organisation failed to achieve their goal.

Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it was possible that US troops advising and assisting Iraq's military could be deployed to fight. He said: "To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL [ISIS] targets, I will recommend that to the president."

Dempsey pointed out that half the Iraqi army is driven by sectarian motives, while there may be nearly 26 brigades with professional capacity.

US fighters have expanded their operations and carried out on Monday their first operation in the vicinity of Baghdad.

American Defence Secretary Chuck Hegel said the US will increase its air strikes against ISIS after it launched more than 160 air strikes against the organisation's sites in Iraq.

He noted that hunting ISIS will not exclude Syria, because the organisation's fighters move freely between Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, General Dempsey pointed out that training five to 10,000 Syrian moderate rebels will not be enough to counter ISIS forces.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday that the US administration insists that it will not cooperate with the Syrian regime's forces because "Assad, by killing his own people, has attracted terrorists".

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:20:32 +0000
Serry's address to the UNSC and the promotion of Israel's narrative https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14217-serrys-address-to-the-unsc-and-the-promotion-of-israels-narrative https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14217-serrys-address-to-the-unsc-and-the-promotion-of-israels-narrative Robert SerryIn his briefing to the UN Security Council, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) Robert Serry was careful to uphold Israel's dominating narrative while attempting to convey a compromised appeal on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza. Departing from a statistical observation of the death toll generated by the so-called "conflict" according to UN terminology, Serry is reported to have stated that "civilians on both sides" feel "battered and embittered". Having accomplished the first step of failing to distinguish between the indigenous Palestinian population and the settler-population that is willingly complicit in Israel's colonial violence, the rest of Serry's address extends the Israeli narrative to a wider, international audience.

Focusing upon the necessity of rebuilding Gaza, as well as the fallacy of the treacherous two-state conspiracy, Serry stated that "UNSCO has brokered a trilateral agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the UN to enable work at the scale required in the Strip." The work involves a prominent role for the PA and security coordination to appease Israel, "through UN monitoring that these materials will not be diverted from their entirely civilian purpose."

According to EurActiv, reconstruction will be decided entirely upon Israeli interests. An unnamed EU official declared that security restrictions on aid inadvertently meant that the settler-colonial state was allowed to monopolise the situation. The claim was denied by Israeli spokesman Mark Regev, although requests for further elaboration were not forthcoming.

Serry's conclusion included a plea for imperialists to adhere to their colonising plans for Palestine. "When I warn that Gaza could implode, or explode again, or the two state paradigm could slip irreversibly away, I do not believe I am crying wolf."

The two-state imposition, according to Serry "would be a welcome step of confidence, commitment and hope at a time when the parties and the world desperately need it." Already, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been relentlessly propagating a return to negotiations under the guise of a so-called "European recognition" of the Palestinian state.

With Gaza's reconstruction destined to become another form of collaborative oppression against Palestinians, eliminating the ramifications of "Protective Edge" by allowing Israel to dictate the parameters of rebuilding consolidates the settler-colonial process, once again endorsed by a corrupt Palestinian leadership.

As with other imperialist rhetoric, Gaza, the epitome of resistance, has been marginalised in order to allow the resurgence of complicity. This ensures that Palestinian civilians and their needs, which are inclusive of resistance, are not allowed a platform for collective expression. Reconstruction rhetoric divested from the necessity of resistance constitutes a threat to the entire Palestinian population and its unified stance behind the resistance movements. Anything less than the inclusivity of resistance is tantamount to a betrayal of Palestine.

Serry has complained about "underlying dynamics still unaddressed". Yet this is precisely the intention of the imperialist international organisation – a discussion of Palestine's remnants through the hegemonic narrative stipulated by Israel and endorsed by the complicit international community, in order to ensure a complete annihilation of Palestinian demands and territory.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:17:55 +0000
Israeli comptroller to probe ministers' decisions during Gaza war https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14216-israeli-comptroller-to-probe-ministers-decisions-during-gaza-war https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14216-israeli-comptroller-to-probe-ministers-decisions-during-gaza-war Israeli flagIsraeli State Control Committee Chairman Amnon Cohen yesterday ordered the State Comptroller Yosef Shapira to probe the government and security cabinet's decisions during and after the war on the Gaza Strip.

The probe is to concentrate on issues relating to the resistance's tunnels.

During the control committee hearing held yesterday, Cohen said that members of the Israeli security cabinet were fully aware of the tunnel threat before the start of the war.

Israeli army radio said that Cohen ordered the comptroller to look into allegations that cabinet members leaked secret information to the press during the war.

In a statement, Shapira said last month he would launch a full-scale investigation into the military and political Israeli leadership's actions during the war. The decision was triggered by claims that Israel violated international law during the war.

During the same hearing, the Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon accused members of the security cabinet of contacting field officers during the war in order to get sensitive information.

Israeli TV Channel 1 reported him saying that it is not allowed for any minister to get information about the battle from the officers. He also criticised ministers who met with acting forces during the war without getting the necessary permissions.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:16:15 +0000
US shares Arab citizens' 'private' information with Israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14215-us-shares-arab-citizens-private-information-with-israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14215-us-shares-arab-citizens-private-information-with-israel The US routinely shares private information about its citizens of Arab and Palestinian descent with Israel, the New York Times revealed yesterday.

In an Op-Ed in the newspaper, James Bamford said that the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden told him that the US "routinely passed private, unedited communications to Israel".

Documents leaked by Snowden reveal that the US passes on "unevaluated and unminimised transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content,'' to Unit 8200, an elite Israeli intelligence department.

He said the intercepts included communications of Arab and Palestinian-Americans, whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the information.

Whistleblower Snowdon said this is ''one of the biggest abuses we've seen", Bamford reported.

Bamford cited a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and Unit 8200 outlining transfers that have occurred since 2009.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted by the US on espionage charges after leaking thousands of secret NSA documents.

He claimed asylum in Russia, where he has been granted a three-year residency that allows him to travel abroad.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:02:05 +0000
Algeria on 'state of alert' along Libya border https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14214-algeria-on-state-of-alert-along-libya-border https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14214-algeria-on-state-of-alert-along-libya-border Algeria's Air Force has been put on a state of alert as part of a new security plan to deal with the country's exposure to "terrorist" attacks emanating from Libya, an Algerian security source revealed.

The security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "It has been decided, as part of the plan, any convoy of vehicles approaching the border will be destroyed upon entering Algerian territory."

He said that any unauthorized entry into Algerian territory would be considered a "hostile act".

"The Algerian military leadership fears the possibility of Libyan terrorist groups targeting foreigners in Algeria in the event of western military operations against Jihadist groups in Libya," the source said.

He said: "the leadership of the Algerian army has given strict instructions to air force troops present along the border with Libya to deal with any infiltration attempts across the desert. Any group of cars approaching the border and trying to infiltrate into Algeria will be treated as hostile forces that will be destroyed in case their passengers refuse to stop, get off and lay on the ground."

He pointed out that the current status quo on the border between Algeria and Libya is dangerous due to the increased influence of the Salafi jihadist groups in the country, adding that the borders are now closed as they open only for humanitarian cases, "particularly for people fleeing the civil war in Libya".

The absence of any official security authority on the Libyan side of the border led to its closure in May.

Algeria shares a 1,000 kilometre border with Libya.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:52:38 +0000
The sole representative of the Palestinian people https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14213-the-sole-representative-of-the-palestinian-people https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14213-the-sole-representative-of-the-palestinian-people I would like to move you from the victorious celebrations to the rooms where secret negotiations are held and international decisions are made when it comes to the Gaza Strip in particular. Forgive me, but I believe that our perception of a victory in Gaza requires us to consider Che Guevara's famous quote: "Revolution is created by the most honourable and inherited and exploited by scoundrels."

As many predicted, there was nothing at all surprising about the "surprising non-traditional plan for resolving the Palestinian issue", which was promised by Mahmoud Abbas on the eve of the ceasefire. In fact, one could argue that what ensued is the worst possible thing that could have happened to the cause and that this was due to the steps taken by Abbas himself.

Let us recall that the Oslo Agreement (which in no way exonerates Arafat and the ministers who were with him at the time) was a "declaration of principles" and that Oslo II (The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), which was born from the womb of the Gaza-Jericho agreement, led to the eventual destruction of the Yasser Arafat International Airport in the Gaza Strip. The legacies resulting from these agreements can be considered the "worst of the worst" and yet, what is even worse, is that in reality another agreement, the Abbas-Beilin agreement, was being negotiated in secret and in conjunction with the Oslo agreement behind closed doors.

Those close to Yasser Arafat have claimed that Mahmoud Abbas used to boost Arafat's image as a leader and a "head of state" so that the late leader would leave the actual politics to someone other than himself, and that this someone was none other than Mahmoud Abbas. He had long been preparing to take his place as Arafat's heir after he, of course, completed the challenging tasks that were expected of him as a future leader. Among these was the need to modify the charter of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which ultimately meant that with the right modifications Arafat was no longer needed and the road could be paved for Abbas to take his place. So the story goes.

The secret agreement between Abbas and Yossi Beilin went into great detail and exposed the ugly truth about the Oslo agreement. In fact, many of the points in the Abbas-Beilin agreement retreated from the original points that were discussed and agreed upon under Oslo. Dr Rubhi Halloum gives a detailed description of this secret agreement on his website, including the following: the agreement that Jerusalem, Bethany and the surrounding areas would be placed under Israeli control and that these areas would be governed in a way that was similar to the Vatican; that the largest Israeli settlements would remain; that there would be a mandate period for Palestine that will take place over 20 years; that Palestine would be a demilitarised state; and that UNRWA would be dissolved and replaced with a different organisation that would relocate refugees with less fuss.

And yet, it seems that some of these negotiation points have proven to be even worse in reality, and that the only truth is that now Mahmoud Abbas is president of an authority without any real sense of authority regardless of true political legitimacy and elections. The PLO and Fatah seem to be more and more marginalised with no constants other than the fact that Abbas intends to remain president for the rest of his life.

A closer look at the Israeli occupation confirms the idea that Abbas is acting as a "filter" that encourages and influences Palestinian factions to give up their most valuable politicians to Israel's prisons. He has not asked for the release of Palestinian prisoners and has worked to limit the Palestinian resistance as much as possible. In fact, he has done everything in his power to ensure that Palestinian resistance does not go beyond the negotiating table. He engages outside Arab parties as much as he can for the sake of normalisation and finance and holds them responsible for burdens that he is incapable of bearing on his own. In addition, Abbas does everything in his power to prevent Israel from being held accountable for its actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; indeed, he has turned this into a business venture for his family members and entourage.

The intention of this article is not to berate Mahmoud Abbas as a person but to expose the truth, which is that very little has been done to shorten the length of the siege and foreign military occupation of an entire land and population. The occupation, as it directly relates to the people of Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora especially, not only threatens Palestinian identity and weakens affiliations with it, but it also treats the Palestinian people as if their existence is anti-Arab and threatens greater Arab survival. Reducing the Palestinian cause to a competition for Israeli approval run by Abbas and Mohamed Dahlan has diminished the efforts and meaning of what Fatah truly is. In fact, this competition seems to be Fatah's only concern right now.

This situation is what caused Gaza to become what it is today according to the laws of nature. If Dahlan's attempt at a coup in Gaza had been successful, Gaza would have responded with true resistance that is so powerful it would inevitably have spilt into the neighbourhoods of the West Bank. It is for this reason that Ariel Sharon agreed to withdraw his forces from the Gaza Strip so that he would be able to focus his efforts on the West Bank, what he called Judea and Samaria, and ensure that he uprooted the seeds of resistance from its lands entirely.

The Israeli far right's rejection of the reconciliation agreement helps to explain the reasons behind its defeat in Gaza; however, we must be mindful of the fact that the Israelis are still promoting the illusion that the Palestinian Authority is the only authority or entity that represents the Palestinian people. The Israeli government and PA are working together to encourage Arab governments in their demonisation of Hamas. The goal behind this is to credit all resistance and all true political change to Fatah and its members. It appears that only the State of Qatar is able and willing to bring a sense of balance to the equation, as all other parties are subservient to Israel's will.

The information that was leaked about the reconciliation agreements that took place in Doha demonstrate that a great deal of pressure was placed on Hamas and Qatar as a sponsor not to place unnecessary pressure on Fatah and consequently spoil Abbas's efforts. However, it has also become clear that neither Hamas nor Qatar are limiting their involvement in the Palestinian cause and that they do not consider limiting Abbas's political influence as their sole goal and purpose. This reality is what worries Abbas and his supporters, who fear that Hamas and Qatar's zone of influence is expanding and that they will be able to counter any disagreement with which they do not agree.

Perhaps what this all means is that Abbas and his team of followers are being placed in a situation similar to the madness of King George III, in that the Palestinian people will refuse to bow down to state-sponsored elections (influenced by the US, Europe and Israel). Soon, the people will find no use for "their George" and say that there is no need for a president who merely relocates from capital to capital and appears on many news channels. The alleged reconciliation agreement, which really is nothing more than an attempt to bring Gaza under the Palestinian Authority's umbrella, has not even succeeded in forcing the government to pay the wages of government employees in the Gaza Strip. The interesting thing to consider is that Abbas has insisted that Qatar pays to the PA the money intended for Gaza's wages so that he will receive it personally and redistribute it to the workers in the territory. Is this what reconciliation means? Has the concept of reconciliation been reduced to Abbas playing the exclusive role of a high-commission bank to the people of Gaza?

What is even more devastating now is that Gaza's historical sponsors now need to pay a sum that is far larger than the sum of the outstanding salaries and that it was suggested that the money allocated for rebuilding the Gaza Strip should go through Fatah first. The cost of human sacrifice, however, cannot be counted and the loss of human capital can never be retrieved or compensated for. In reality, we cannot make any joke out of this because the Palestinian people have remained steadfast in their struggle and they have given up a great deal to stay resilient. The death of one resistance fighter is enough to redeem the homeland and the death of one innocent child is truly too much to be equated with anything else. These two sacrifices alone are far greater than the force of the occupation, its supporters and its collaborators.

A collaborator in this context is anyone who participates in the killing of freedom fighters in any resistance struggle around the globe. This description includes those in Europe and the Western world. The atrocities carried out by the Nazis are what justified the establishment of a Jewish national home on Palestinian soil and it is due to this recent global history that we must define carefully what it means to be a collaborator and what it means to be the occupier as opposed to the occupied.

We now come to what Abbas will do with his powers, as it appears that he will use international platforms to pressure Hamas into signing agreements that he sees fit in light of the great achievements of the resistance in Gaza, which swayed international public opinion from being on the Israeli side to largely favouring the Palestinians. It is clear at this point that Abbas will ask US Secretary of State John Kerry to formulate an agreement that is based on the 1967 borders, one that includes both the West Bank and Gaza Strip in addition to East Jerusalem. However, it will be impossible for Kerry to meet these demands in light of the numerous concessions that the Palestinian Authority has made over the past few decades. It has already agreed to give up much of the territory that was initially included in the 1967 agreement. Abbas has also lost the support of the UN Security Council, which had previously put a timetable on ending the Israeli occupation.

The threats used by Abbas, primarily the argument that, "All doors are open for Palestine to request membership in international organisations such as the UN, which would subsequently afford Palestinians the opportunity to hold Israel accountable for its violation of international agreements and bring an end to security coordination..." is nothing but a well known talking point. In fact, Abbas's "bag of tricks" and negotiation talking points are nothing more than a bag of cheap trinkets that do not mean much in the grand scheme of things.

The truth is that security coordination with Israel is the last of thing Abbas seeks to bring to an end because, quite frankly, it would bring an end to his own security. Indeed, Abbas's "non-traditional surprise", which he promised that he would share with us, turned out to be that he planned to meet with Arab foreign ministers to ask for their help and support at the UN. What Abbas means by this is that he wants to take some of the Palestinian cause's blood off his hands and distribute the blame to other Arab and non-Arab partners.

Going to the United Nations and its hijacked sub-organisations is a mere continuation of Abbas's failed attempt to take the Palestinian cause to an international platform. He seeks to negotiate key factors within this international domain; however, he fails to acknowledge that many members of the UN General Assembly opted not to hold Israel accountable for its crimes during Operation Cast Lead.

Abbas has stated previously that he already accepts the decision of the UN General Assembly, meaning that he has expressed his compliance with the idea that all of historic Palestine is up for auction to the highest bidder with some of these bidders being countries none of us ever hear about unless there is a crisis taking place. It would seem as though those are the demands of the democratisation that is so prevalent in our era.

All of these factors and more are what will raise the stakes in this bidding game and this is why Abbas previously used the term "non-traditional" to describe his willingness to surrender the many sacrifices that have been made by successive Palestinian generations. This is indeed an unprecedented move in the world of global politics because the Palestinian cause has entered the world of gambling.

This talk of "internationalising" the Palestinian struggle in this way would also lead to the internationalisation of Jerusalem or, even worse, the Judaisation of Jerusalem, a project which Israel is already implementing and has become the subject of many academic studies and research projects. Moreover, Abbas has further lost any Palestinian claim to Jerusalem due to his surprise visit to Amman during which it was discussed that Jerusalem and all other Holy Land sites would be placed under the custody of King Abdullah II, as it was agreed upon previously in former treaties.

One must also note that Israel has alluded to the fact that (according to the Arava agreement) all Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank will indeed be placed under Jordanian custody. Abbas has also suggested adding Christian holy sites to that list, which would reinstate Jordan's historical role in maintaining and governing the West Bank. However, this is impossible in today's world because placing Jerusalem's Muslim holy sites under Jordanian custody would require a military force equivalent to that of Salahuddin and nothing less.

The Arab situation in the United Nations today is dictated by the international community's decision to avoid giving Saudi Arabia a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Jordan has submitted a draft to the UN Security Council and it does not differ much from those submitted by Europe and the United States. Because many long-awaited decisions are delayed continuously, as they present opposing Arab and Western views, one can assume that the worst outcomes will come out of resolutions 1850 and 1860.

We need to consider further the dangers of the decision by Europe, America and Israel to grant Mahmoud Abbas the agency to act on behalf of the Palestinian people and for Fatah to act as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. This misplaced agency is what will result in monstrous decisions of huge proportions.

Translated from Al Jazeera net, 16 September, 2014

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Toujan Faisal) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:25:46 +0000
As Abbas visits UN in New York, American organisations hold meeting to demand an end to the Israeli occupation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14212-as-abbas-visits-un-in-new-york-american-organisations-hold-meeting-to-demand-an-end-to-the-israeli-occupation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14212-as-abbas-visits-un-in-new-york-american-organisations-hold-meeting-to-demand-an-end-to-the-israeli-occupation In the context of 2014 being the "International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People", and to coincide with the speech that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to give before the General Assembly of the United Nations by the end of next week, in which he is going to demand an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, dozens of American organisations, institutions and churches supporting Palestinian rights are holding a conference from Friday to Sunday in San Diego, under the umbrella of the "US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation".

Arabs48 news website cited Palestinian activist Ramah Kudaimi, one of the coordinators of the alliance for the boycott of Israel in the United States, who said the conference will focus on discussing mechanisms for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine and stopping the financial and military aid to Israel by focusing on the global campaign for the boycott of Israel and continuing to struggle for the rights of Palestinians.

The organisers represent institutions that are active at a grassroots level and do not receive any help or support from any governmental bodies. According to Kudaimi, their ideas are, to a large extent, the same as those included in the plan demanding the end of the occupation, which will be launched in New York by Abu Mazen.

The conference is expected to be attended by about 350 members of the coalition, representing student organisations, institutions, trade unions, churches, synagogues and Jewish organisations, in addition to activists in the American left.

The conference will deal with the challenges facing US-based activists working to end the occupation of Palestine in light of the legal onslaught against solidarity campaigners. It will also seek to expand the coalition and coordinate the global struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

According to Arabs48, Kudaimi explained that the conference is an opportunity for the different regional groups and activists supporting Palestinian rights to develop a common strategy for communicating and coordinating efforts to end all forms of US support for the Israeli occupation as a system of racial separation.

The speakers include Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website and author of the book The Battle for Justice in Palestine; Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law; and Robin D G Kelley, the Gary B Nash Professor of American History at UCLA.

It is noteworthy that most of the conference is not open to the press, but members of the media are allowed to attend all events that are open to the public.

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:16:09 +0000
Erdogan slams accusations that Turkey trades with ISIS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14211-erdogan-slams-accusations-that-turkey-trades-with-isis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14211-erdogan-slams-accusations-that-turkey-trades-with-isis Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday denied media reports accusing Ankara of having trade relations with the Islamic State (ISIS) which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, stressing that his government fights against all types of terrorism and terrorist organisations.

Erdogan told a gathering of the Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen (TESK) in Ankara that "Turkey is a country which fights all types of terrorism and terrorist organisations without discrimination. We have never accepted the concept of Islamic terrorism, and will not accept it".

He denied media reports claiming that his country buys oil from ISIS in exchange for weapons and medical services saying: "We have stressed and continue to stress that this is impossible."

Erdogan lashed out at the New York Times newspaper over an image of him accompanied by Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu while leaving the Haci Bayram mosque. "They used this photo alongside a story about a terrorist organisation [ISIS] by saying the organisation recruits terrorists from the surrounding area of the mosque. To put it mildly, this is impertinence, sordidness, vileness," the president said.

The Turkish leader stressed that the events in the region proved the accuracy of his country predictions. "They did not listen to Turkey's warnings about the Middle East, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, as well as in Ukraine, but today they agree with us after they saw the results."

Commenting on the Turkish diplomats abducted by ISIS in Iraq, the Turkish president said: "Our 49 citizens detained in Mosul are the most important. We must speak cautiously when we address this issue because we are in a position of responsibility, and we should talk and move taking into account the sensitivity of the detainees' situation. We hope this country's media and its political parties observe the same sensitivity."

]]>
noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:14:45 +0000