The discovery of a rare aerial photo of Jerusalem in the 1930s, taken by a Zeppelin, has provided the long-sought after proof that when Israel occupied the Old City in 1967 it secretly destroyed an important mosque that dated from the time of Saladin close to the al-Aqsa mosque.
The destruction of the Sheikh Eid mosque – in an area widely considered to be the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – revives questions about Israel’s continuing abuse of Islamic holy places under its control.
The issue has been in the spotlight recently because of a growing number of arson and vandalism attacks by Jewish extremists on mosques in Jerusalem and the West Bank, in what are termed “price-tag” attacks designed to dissuade the Israeli government from making diplomatic concessions to the Palestinians.
Following the torching by Jewish settlers of a mosque near Ramallah two weeks ago, Dan Halutz, a former military chief of staff, admitted there was no political will to find the culprits. “If we wanted, we could catch them, and when we want to, we will,” he told Army Radio.
The question of whether Jerusalem’s Sheikh Eid mosque had survived up until modern times had been the subject of heated debates between Palestinian and Israeli scholars. The discovery of its location is not of only historic and academic interest. Earlier this year, before the aerial photo was unearthed, development at the spot where the mosque once stood led to damage of what was left of the building below ground, archaeologists now admit.
Israel’s Antiquities Authority, its chief archaeological institution, dug up the mosque’s remaining foundations and disinterred a human skeleton, believed to be Sheikh Eid himself.
The site of the mosque is next to the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), a raised compound of Islamic holy places that includes the al-Aqsa mosque and is flanked on one side by the Western Wall, a major Jewish prayer site.
Control over the Haram al-Sharif is contested by Israel, which believes that the mosques are built over two Jewish temples destroyed long ago. There is growing pressure from Jewish religious groups to be allowed to pray on the Haram al-Sharif, and some extremists have threatened to blow up the mosques so that they can build a third temple.
A provocative visit in 2000 to the site by Ariel Sharon, then leader of Israel’s opposition, backed by more than 1,000 police triggered the second intifada.
The remains of Sheikh Eid mosque were destroyed during excavations carried out as Israel prepares the area next to the Haram al-Sharif for the construction of a large visitor centre.
The plan is part of a series of changes by Israel to the area near the Western Wall that has been fuelling tensions with Palestinians. The alterations violate international law because Jerusalem’s Old City is occupied territory.
Benjamin Kedar, vice-president of Israel’s National Academy of Sciences, who discovered the old photo after searching archives in Germany, called the treatment of Sheikh Eid mosque “an archaeological crime.”
The mosque, which originally served as an Islamic school, built by Malik al-Afdil, one of Saladin’s sons, is said to have been one of only three such buildings remaining in Jerusalem from that period. Its provenance and location are described in a 15th-century document. After the burial of its most famous preacher, Sheikh Eid, two centuries later, it became a major pilgrimage site for Muslims.
The mosque, it now emerges, was destroyed during the wholesale levelling of the Mughrabi quarter of the Old City – a war crime that has been largely overlooked by historians – in the immediate wake of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.
Under cover of dark, Israel sent in bulldozers to clear the area, forcing nearly 1,000 Palestinian residents out so that a wide prayer plaza could be created in front of the Western Wall.
The plaza became the nucleus for the re-establishment of an enlarged Jewish quarter in the Old City, which is gradually encroaching on the Muslim and Christian quarters through the activities of settlers and armed guards assigned by the Israeli authorities to protect them.
The visitor center is the latest plan in a long-running campaign by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who is in charge of the Western Wall, to strengthen Israel’s hold on the area around the Haram al-Sharif, in what is seen by many Palestinians as an attempt to bolster Israeli claims to sovereignty over the compound of mosques.
The rabbi’s Western Wall Heritage Foundation oversees the Western Wall tunnels, which were opened in 1996 during current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous premiership. The opening sparked violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces that led to dozens of deaths.
The Heritage Foundation is also attempting to relocate the Mughrabi bridge, a ramp now used chiefly by non-Muslims and Israeli police to reach the al-Aqsa compound, to further expand the prayer plaza in front of the Western Wall.
The visitor centre, which would be built close to the Mughrabi bridge, has aroused opposition from a group of dissident Israeli archaeologists. Yoram Tzafrir a professor at Hebrew University, recently told the Haaretz newspaper: “It might be said that the demolition of the Mughrabi quarter in 1967 was necessary … to allow masses to reach the Western Wall – not to build a new [visitor] building.”
The Heritage Foundation has justified its activities by saying that excavations destroying Islamic history are necessary to unearth older, Jewish archaeological remains. In a statement referring to the Sheikh Eid controversy, it said: “Excavations in the area of the Western Wall are intended to reach the earliest levels possible. Clearly this cannot be done without destroying later periods, whatever they may be.”
The historic and current abuses of the Sheikh Eid mosque are reflected in Israel’s repeated dismal scores in international surveys on religious freedom.
In 2010 the US State Department published a report placing Israel in the same category as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Sudan. “Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under [Israel’s 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law] because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites,” the report stated. The 1967 law stipulates a punishment of seven years’ imprisonment for anyone found guilty of desecrating a holy site, and five years for impeding access to a holy site. But Israel has given such status only to Jewish places of worship.
The State Department’s findings were confirmed last year in a freedom of religion index organized by US academics at Binghamton University, who awarded Israel a zero score.
The treatment of Sheikh Eid mosque has echoes of a current and more prominent dispute close by, in West Jerusalem, where Israel has approved a plan by the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre to build a Museum of Tolerance over the ancient Muslim cemetery of Mamilla, which includes graves believed to be those of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions.
Israeli media reported in 2008 that more than 100 skeletons had been unearthed and mistreated in excavations to prepare the site for construction work. The building of the museum has been delayed by financial problems caused by the global economic downturn.
While these high-profile cases have made headlines, violations of religious freedoms for the 1.3 million Palestinian Muslims living under occupation, who have citizenship, have gained far less attention.
The core grievance dates to Israel’s creation in 1948, when all land and property held in trust for the Muslim community was confiscated inside the borders of the newly established Jewish state. These properties – donated by generations of Palestinians to a waqf, or religious endowment – comprised not only holy sites and cemeteries but also schools, public buildings, shops and farmland.
After 1948, all of the waqf’s holdings, which constituted a tenth of the territory of the Holy Land, were seized by the state and, along with property belonging to more than 750,000 Palestinian refugees, passed to an official known as the Custodian of Absentee Property.
Only the mosques in the 120 Palestinian towns and villages that survived Israel’s establishment have continued to operate, though under strict supervision. Israel, which pays the salaries of mosque employees, controls all appointments and monitors sermons.
Some 500 other villages, which were emptied of their Palestinian population in 1948, have been razed, often along with any local mosques or churches.
In cities that are now almost exclusively Jewish, such as Tel Aviv, mosques and cemeteries were simply developed over. In one notorious incident, the large Abdul Nabi cemetery was passed to a development company in the 1950s and a five-star hotel and several housing complexes for Jewish immigrants built over it.
Most of the mosques that remained standing in the otherwise-destroyed villages have been desecrated, according to a survey undertaken by the Nazareth-based Human Rights Association in 2004. It found that these mosques, as well as Islamic shrines, had been made inaccessible, including to internal refugees living nearby. Some had been turned over to Jewish immigrants. For example, Caesarea, a former Palestinian coastal village that was transformed after 1948 into a wealthy Jewish community that is home to Benjamin Netanyahu, converted the Bushnak mosque into a restaurant.
Other prominent mosques in former Palestinian villages have been put to use as bars, night clubs, art galleries, shops, animal pens, grain stores and synagogues.
There is little that can be done to prevent such desecration in most cases because Israel’s 1978 Antiquities Law offers no protection to buildings dating after 1700.
Meanwhile, other, older mosques have been declared closed military zones, leaving them derelict. The beautiful Ghabisiya mosque in northern historical Palestine is fenced off and enveloped in razor-wire, while the Hittin mosque, built by Saladin in 1187 to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Hittin, close to the Sea of Galilee, has become a crumbling ruin, with refugees living close by forbidden to repair it.
Over the past 15 years, the two branches of the Islamic Movement have worked to identify and document the Muslim holy places that were destroyed and those that survived but are today off-limits.
It has also antagonised the Israeli authorities by leading a campaign to restore many of the most important sites. When the Islamic Movement helped a group of internal refugees from the former village of Sarafand, on the Mediterranean coast, restore their mosque in 2000, it was bulldozed overnight in still-unexplained circumstances.
Even rare successes in the Israeli courts have made little impact in practice. Last year the Supreme Court ruled that Beersheba council must use the city’s imposing and recently restored Grand Mosque as a museum to Islamic culture rather than a general museum, as the council had planned.
However, in March the Adalah legal centre for the Arab minority in occupied Palestine, which helped fight the case, complained to the Israeli attorney-general that the council had ignored the ruling and was using the mosque to stage an exhibition on British and Israeli rule in the Negev. It also noted that the council had staged a wine and beer festival in the mosque’s grounds last year.
Nuri al-Uqbi, a Bedouin activist who has led a long campaign to try to restore the Grand Mosque to a place of worship, said: “I felt horrified and furious at this violation of the mosque’s sanctity. In the mosque there are plastic dolls and models wearing British and Israeli uniforms, some of them in shorts, among other exhibits that are irrelevant to Arab-Islamic culture or tradition.”
Beersheba council has refused to provide a Muslim place of worship in the city, despite its being home to 1,000 Muslim families and daily drawing many Bedouin visitors from the surrounding Negev. Other legal efforts related to waqf property have also come to nought. In 2007 Palestinians living in the historic city of Jaffa, now a mixed Jewish-Arab suburb of Tel Aviv, unsuccessfully petitioned the district court to discover what had happened to local waqf property.
The government refused to divulge the information, claiming it “would seriously harm Israel’s foreign relations”. This was presumed to refer to the damage that might be done to Israel’s image abroad should it be revealed to what uses the waqf property had been put.
The case is currently being appealed to the Supreme Court.
However, all the signs are that the court is unlikely to be sympathetic. In 2009, after a five-year legal struggle by Adalah, the Supreme Court rejected a petition demanding that the 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law specifically include protection for Islamic sites.
While agreeing that Muslim holy sites were generally in a “miserable condition”, it said that the matter was too “sensitive” for it to issue a ruling.
Under pressure from the court, however, the Israeli government promised to spend $500,000 on the maintenance of Muslim holy places, a sum that has been widely criticised by the community as “pitiful.” The money will be allocated by the Israel Lands Administration, which according to Adalah lawyers, “has done nothing to prevent the desecration of Muslim holy sites and in many instances played an active role in their desecration.”
Restrictions on Muslims’ freedom of worship seem likely to intensify in the months and years ahead. Late last year Netanyahu gave his backing to a law that would ban mosques from using loudspeakers to call residents to prayer.
Observing that there had been many complaints about noise, Netanyahu observed: “The same problem exists in all European countries, and they know how to deal with it. It’s legitimate in Belgium; it’s legitimate in France. Why isn’t it legitimate here? We don’t need to be more liberal than Europe.”
Netanyahu had apparently forgotten that he was not in Europe and that the Muslims he was talking about are not immigrants but the native population.
- Foundation: Israel dug under Al-Aqsa compound gate (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- New Israeli military complex planned in Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel Planning A Military College In Mount Olive (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish settlers start to defile Aqsa Mosque Sunday morning (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
By Alhaqhr | July 9, 2012
- Annexation Wall: 10 Years Too Long (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Al-Nu’man – A Case of Indirect Forcible Transfer (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settlers Seize More Land owned by 67 year old Khader Issa Near Bethlehem (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Before any problem can be fixed it must first be acknowledged. The jobs crisis stays in the shadows, out of mind, and consequently unaddressed. This is allowed to happen because those in power – Republicans and Democrats – both have political reasons to remain silent.
When the jobs crisis is discussed, the word “crisis” is seldom used, and the conversation is conducted with hushed tones and minimizing vocabulary. Therefore, when the monthly national jobs report was announced for June, there was quiet grumbling instead of passionate oratory; passivity instead of mobilization and action.
In the last three months the country added an average of 75,000 jobs a month. But job creation per month must be over 100,000 to keep up with young workers entering the workforce; therefore the real number of unemployed has steadily increased, on top of the mountain of already long-term unemployed.
The ”real” unemployment rate - which includes those who gave up looking for work and those who want full-time work – rose to 14.9 percent in June, a total of 23 million people.
President Obama actually had the nerve to claim that the June jobs report was a “step in the right direction.” His election campaign chooses not to be interrupted by facts.
But the real story that the numbers tell in the jobs report is the trend that promises more unemployment. The economy has stalled, and threatens to slide backward again into recession. The “jobless recovery” that we have now is likely to evolve into a full-fledged depression.
Corporations already know this, which is why they refuse to hire more workers and are content sitting on their mountains of cash: why invest money in hiring or adding new machines if you think the economy may tank, spoiling the investment? Indeed, corporations have every right to believe the economy is headed downward. The New York Times explains:
“… ill [economic] winds are blowing in from both a contracting [recessionary] Europe [the biggest trading partner of the U.S.] and slowing growth in emerging markets [China, India]. Also, domestic lawmakers’ inaction on the upcoming ‘fiscal cliff’ creates uncertainty that is not conducive to hiring.”
What is this “fiscal cliff” that politicians and CEO’s talk about behind closed doors but rarely discuss on TV? The New York Times continues:
“…the end of 2012 [the fiscal cliff] will also bring a torrent of federal tax increases [reducing consumer spending]… The government is also scheduled to lop off a huge chunk of federal spending [$500 billion in annual cuts] because of measures set in motion [the infamous "trigger cuts"] by Congress’s inability last December to come up with plans for longer-term fiscal restructuring.”
The reason these cuts are not being discussed – and the reason they are referred to as the “fiscal cliff” – is because after these measures are implemented, the already-stammering economy will be pushed “over the cliff” into recession.
Both parties are not talking about the fiscal cliff because they share the exact same solution: austerity -cuts to social programs (education, health care, safety net), government layoffs, and other measures to make working people pay for the nation’s debt instead of the rich and corporations.
The real state of the economy is also revealed by Wall Street’s clamoring for the Federal Reserve to again start printing massive amounts of money, called quantitative easing. This desperate move would never be considered in times of “relative stability” of the economy and threatens to create massive inflation at home and abroad.
Both Democrats and Republicans are aligned with the free market model of job creation, which amounts to massive state intervention to provide banks and corporations with bailouts, ultra-cheap/printed money, subsides, tax breaks, etc., in the hopes that these corporations will hire people. These ideas have already been thoroughly disproved by events, yet nobody in power can put forth an alternative, since doing so would change the landscape of American politics.
What America needs is what was done during the last depression: a massive dose of state intervention against these corporations and the wealthy, by demanding that their taxes be dramatically increased to fund a federal jobs program.
Until labor and community groups detach themselves from Obama’s election campaign, they will remain mum on this issue and will be forced to support a so-called corporate jobs creation plan that promises more unemployment. The reason that labor organizations are not fighting for a real jobs campaign is because they have opted to tape their mouths shut and campaign for the Democrats instead, a fact that exposes them in front of their membership, who will in turn demand a new policy from their leaders. If the leaders fail to respond positively, their membership will demand a new policy and a new leadership.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and trade unionist. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, we read in the New York Times and elsewhere about one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most important supporters and allies having defected. The impression one gets is that Assad’s government is in a state of collapse— and this gives credibility to those pushing for Assad to turn over power.
But what the media are not mentioning is that Brigadier General Manaf Tlass did not defect directly from the Assad inner circle. He had already fallen into disfavor early in the uprising and lost his command in May 2011—14 months ago. If you had that additional piece of information, you would interpret the news reports in a totally different way.
When a piece of evidence that contradicts the overall impression is absent from the reportage, the reportage itself is almost worthless.
As are reports of horrific events without adequate fact-checking and follow-up. Remember the Houla massacre? Who carried that out?
The media told us that more than 100 people, including women and children, were brutally slaughtered at close range in the village of Houla in late May. The bloodshed, reported around the world, was ascribed to a militia, the Shabiha, which is loyal to Assad. Here’s an example, from the BBC website:
Survivors of the massacre in Syria’s Houla region have told the BBC of their shock and fear as regime forces entered their homes and killed their families. [...]
Most witnesses who spoke to the BBC said they believed that the army and shabiha militiamen were responsible.
“We were in the house, they went in, the shabiha and security, they went in with Kalashnikovs and automatic rifles,” said survivor Rasha Abdul Razaq.
Later, a dribble of accounts cast doubt on this, since the people killed were, by and large, themselves supporters of Assad. But few heard about these. The BBC report did not say who Rasha was, or provide any evidence that she actually was there, or that if she was, she had any basis for saying that the killers were identifiable as to their affiliation. BBC quoted one other source, who did not provide a name. Despite the thinness of this material, the BBC story was picked up all over the world, and became perhaps the definitive account.
Hence, you probably were unaware of an article from the Frankfurter Allgemeine-Zeitung, a traditional and serious German newspaper for whom I’ve written in the past. It published a report a month ago from a correspondent who got eyewitness accounts from people who he says had visited the Houla area. The correspondent, Rainer Hermann, says that these eyewitnesses were Assad opponents, yet discovered that government backers were not responsible for the massacre.
Hermann’s sources described the events as follows: anti-Assad rebels attacked army roadblocks just outside Houla, which had been intended to protect villages, where the majority are members of Assad’s Alawi sect, from Sunni militias. The soldiers at the roadblocks, overwhelmed, called for backup, which led to a 90-minute battle, in which both sides sustained extensive fatalities.
It was in this time frame that the unidentified militias entered Houla.
As Hermann wrote June 7:
“According to eyewitness accounts…those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.
…”Their findings contradict allegations of the rebels, who had blamed the Shabiha militias which are close to the regime.”
Thus, Hermann seemingly was able to do something that most of the Western reporters have been unable to do: find opponents of Assad who nevertheless may be willing to provide accounts that do not serve their own interests.
Of course, we could do with more information on Hermann’s sources. How do we know they were really in Houla? How do we know they are really opponents of Assad, not just pretending to be? Their story of inter-communal strikes makes more sense than the one that went around the world and turned so many people who had not been paying attention into supporters of toppling Assad. But nevertheless, everyone needs to provide more detail so we can try to ascertain what is true.
Almost all of the accounts in major news organization stories are characterized as being from the opposition, almost all portray everything as caused solely by the regime, and almost all add the disclaimer that the information “could not be independently verified.”
Though conventional journalism likes to advertise that it is “objective” and doesn’t take sides, I don’t recall hearing much from the Syrian regime’s point of view, beyond general and unconvincing denials following reports of regime wrongdoing. One almost gets the impression that the Syrian government does not wish to be heard.
But that turns out not to be the case.
With Syria’s neighbor Turkey increasingly the leading edge for NATO on toppling Assad, it’s interesting that a Turkish newspaper was willing to hear what the Syrian leader had to say:
In an interview with the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, Bashar Assad went after Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with an extraordinarily interesting critique. A version translated into English by the Syrian news agency, SANA, shows Assad stressing his goodwill toward the Turkish people in the first part of the interview, then raising questions about the motives of the alliance seeking to overthrow him:
Assad: …. Today, Erdogan is shedding the tears of hypocrites for the Syrian people. Why hasn’t he cried for those killed in some Gulf countries, although they are innocent, peaceful and unarmed? Why isn’t he speaking about democracy in some Gulf countries?
Journalist: Which country?
Assad: Qatar, for instance. Why didn’t he do anything after the Marmara ship incident except shouting? Why did he challenge Israel, and then suddenly agreed to deploy the missile shield in Turkey? Did he deploy it in order to protect Turkey from the attack of a hostile country? Did America build these bases in order to protect itself against this region? Which country in the region has the capability to threaten America? No country. [...]
You don’t have to be a fan of Assad (and who is?) to find it worthwhile to read his comments. Hearing, almost for the first time, from the other side in a conflict gives one a rush—reminds me of a rule we were taught in journalism school but which never seemed to come up again, except in the most superficial ways :To find out what is really going on, make a real effort to speak to both sides.
All Hillary, All the Time
While the Western media simply ignores statements from the Syrian establishment, it functions as the flip side of the Syrian government press agency, publishing a relentless stream of declarations from the establishment trying to bring Assad down. For example, again from The Times, Hillary Clinton’s well-covered remarks on Tlass:
Later at a news conference, Mrs. Clinton said that General Tlass’s reported defection and those of other senior military officials had sent a powerful message that Mr. Assad’s government was on its way out. She described General Tlass as “a very close and longtime ally” of Mr. Assad and his father.
So what you have is Hillary Clinton being willing to distort the Tlass development, and the media only too happy to go along.
There’s a growing body of evidence/ that we Americans are being lied to by our government, with nary a peep from the people’s representatives in the press. That’s one development, sadly, that really is not news.
- Avaaz’s war on Syria: Soros sponsored sorrow pleads for foreign intervention (worldmathaba.net)
- Implosion of The Houla Massacre Story — Is Anyone Paying Attention? (lewrockwell.com)
It was once claimed that Iran had no right to enrich uranium, and anything that the NPT may have to say about sopporting that right was just a “loophole” in the treaty that had to be closed. This was a hard sell since so many countries other than Iran vehemently defended the right to enrichment. So the US changed its tune, and claimed that it actually recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium however it was simply demanding that Iran “suspend” this right indefinitely until when the US and friends say that it can implement the right safely. No one was fooled by that change in tune, of course, but nevertheless that was the official face-saving position.
So you gotta love it when some horse’s ass goes back and tries to make a legal argument that enrichment is not recognized as a right under the Non Proliferation Treaty. It is not only just an easily refutable argument from a legal standpoint, but it also betrays one of the real agendas of the Iran-hawks: to make an example out of Iran for other developing nations in the on-going effort to get them all to give up their rights under the NPT.
So let me explain: first, the author of this article, a Michael Makosky, identified as a former “Pentagon official”, says about Iran’s right to enrichment: “The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) grants no such right.” Why does he think so? Because he argues, 1- the right is not explicitly listed in the NPT, and 2- because Iran has supposedly not met its obligations under Article III (which requires countries to implement safeguards and allow inspections.)
Well as for the first count — that the right is not explicitly written into the treaty — is total nonsense. The Treaty speaks of nuclear technology in broad terms rather than specific ones, and there’s no reason to assume that a particular type of nuclear technology which is absolutely necessary for a country to independently produce nuclear power is not included. The NPT is not just about non-proliferation, as the author claims. It is also very much about expanding nuclear technology worldwide, which is why there’s even a provision in the NPT that obligated the recognized nuclear-armed states to provide nuclear technology and even information from their test explosiions to the other signatories.
Anyway, considering how many other nations have enrichment technology, then it is far too late in the day to proclaim that enrichment isn’t part of the deal. Certainly, the other nations of the world don’t think that enrichment was excluded, and theyv’e gone to extreme ends to make their voice on the matter clear, as I’ve written before. The Developing Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement have repeatedly gone on record defending Iran’s right to enrichment. Even US allies such as Brazil and Turkey have explicitly recognized that right.
Then we come to the second argument, that Iran is not in compliance with other Articles of the NPt and therefore the “right to enrichment” does not apply to it. This is nonsense for many reasons, but for starters it simply shows a profound ignorance of the NPT. See, as Daniel Joyner has written, the right is simply not “conditional” on the implementation of the other articles. But entirely apart from that, Iran hasn’t violated Article III anyway — it has “maintained” a safeguards agreement with the IAEA as Article III requires, and has allowed all the inspections that its safeguards agreement actually requires, whilst on several occasions going beyond them to allow inspections of places — such as Parchin, twice in 2005 — where the NPT does not apply and which falls outside of the IAEA’s legal inspection authority (which is limited to only measureing nuclear material and sites where nuclear material is stored — not to go on fishing expeditions in missile testing facilities etc.) In fact, it is the demands placed on Iran which are themselves illegal and in violation of the NPT. Note that if the IAEA has any valid basis of suspicion that Iran has failed to declare a nuclear site, all it has to do is present the evidence to the IAEA Board and get a “special inspection” permit that Iran would be obliged to allow. This has not happened because the US has not been able to provide much useful intelligence to the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear program.
And that is why other informed international affairs experts have agreed that Iran’s nuclear program is not in breach of international law.
- Iran’s enrichment program: “intransigence” or US stupidity? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The media and nuclear weapons: spot the difference between Britain and Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran’s IAEA envoy: Britain and France violating NPT (EndtheLie.com)
The latest round of the war against an independent Syria unfolded in Paris last week at the gathering of the “Friends of Syria”.
Russia and China very rightly did not attend this “amoral” – in the diplomatic language of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – meeting. At the meeting western champions of the war insisted on their interpretation of the one-week old Geneva agreements: “transition government based on mutual consent” means “Bashar al-Assad must go”, affirmed French President Hollande.
This recent round of pressure highlights two new tactics employed by Washington: word games and an end-run around the United Nations itself.
First, the new formula “transition government”. The authoritative Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “regime” as “government” and “change” as “transition.” Thus, for those who reject “regime change,” a euphemism was created that has much better chances to go through.
Interestingly enough, this term was promoted by an expert of Russian origin, Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. On June 28, 2012 Trenin published a suggestion in his piece “Syria: A Russian Perspective”: “Russia might be willing to cooperate with the U.S. and other countries if the goal moves towards “transition” rather than “regime change” – what has been dubbed the “Yemen model.”
So who is Mr. Trenin? This retired Soviet colonel was a Senior Research Fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome just before he was recruited in 1993 to join the Carnegie Moscow Center, created the same year by none other than Michael McFaul, the current US Ambassador in Moscow. After nearly 20 years in the pay of the Americans Trenin was rewarded with his current post as director by his former boss, Rose Gottemoeller, who left Moscow in 2008 to join the State Department where she is now Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. Big shoes to fill for Mr.Trenin, but in Washington they know how to pick their cadre.
The board of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington features – this world is truly small – Kofi Annan himself. Among the Endowments “Funders and Supporters” are George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the US National Intelligence Council, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, the US Defense Department, and a collection of other private and public enthusiasts.
Of course the “transition government” and “Yemen model” are nothing other than “regime change.” Honestly: we, Russians, brought up on Tolstoy and Chekhov, should be able to miss Washington’s elementary-school semantic traps.
Secondly, unable to push anti-Syrian resolutions through the UN Security Council due to Russia and China’s staunch resistance, Washington is building up a group of more than a hundred nations more pliable to US pressure. Such “coalitions of the willing” have been put together before, but this time the number of countries makes it look like a parallel anti-UN construct acting as if it is replacing the UN General Assembly itself.
Such a gathering, despite total absence of legitimacy, is not just a talking platform. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Parisien that the Paris meeting would push for a Chapter VII United Nations resolution to enforce the transition plan. A Chapter VII resolution can authorize the use of military force “to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
In the short term, the United States may attempt to institutionalize this ad hoc grouping into a mechanism to implement a “final solution” to President Al-Assad. In the long term, Washington may try to solidify such structure into an anti-U.N. body of sycophants, ready and willing to approve any U.S. initiative.
Now, from tactics to strategy. Looking at the type of leaders that are seizing power in the Arab world with American assistance, a normal person is perplexed: why does the United States, with assistance of their local satellites, keep on removing moderate secular governments and bringing to power, in one country after another, increasingly radical extremists – that same type of people who committed 9/11, the greatest tragedy in U.S. post-WWII history?
Indeed, this question is not solvable by listening to Washington’s official line of arguments. But take a look at the policies of the US and its European partners during the 1930s. Then, America and its ever so reasonable and civilized European allies provided the financial, industrial and political support encouraging the highly energized, violent extremist Nazi and fascist movements in Europe. With a purpose: to direct its violence against Russia. According to the plan, Germany and Russia were to exhaust themselves so that the US would emerge dominant.
Similarly, the earlier use of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and again today the encouragement of various Muslim extremists including elements of the Muslim Brotherhood are part of the plan to create a regional movement which could be thrown against Iran, Russia and China. Such a furnace of war and chaos in the Middle East, the Caucuses and Central Asia will permanently disable all three of America’s strategic rivals and allow Washington to rise to uncontested world domination.
We should be able to decipher not only US language, but also US strategy. In the 1930s, the Soviet Union was at the front line of the fight against Fascism in Europe. Today, Russia owes it to its history and to the fallen in the anti-fascist struggle to recognize, and before it is too late, avert American designs.
We must prevent Russian and other people from being drawn into a bloodbath of mutual extermination in the voracious interest of Washington’s drive for global hegemony.
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court said on Monday that all of its rulings were “binding,” in response to a presidential decree reinstating parliament after the court ruled the house invalid.
“All the rulings and decisions of the Supreme Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal…and are binding for all state institutions,” the court said in a statement.
The court also stressed that it was “not a part of any political conflict… but the limit of its sacred duty is the protection of the texts of the constitution.”
The court had said certain articles in the law governing parliamentary elections were invalid, annulling the Islamist-led house.
President Mohammed Mursi had on Sunday annulled the decision, putting himself on a collision course with the judiciary and the military that enforced the ruling when it was in power.
Parliamentary Speaker Saad al-Katatni announced that the body’s next meeting would be on Tuesday, but that is likely to be delayed following the court ruling.
Activists have accused the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of organizing a coup to increase their power.
The differing rulings of Mursi and the court illustrate the divides between SCAF and the president as Egypt negotiates its path towards democracy.
- Egypt’s military council to hold 2nd meeting on Morsi’s decision (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Morsi reinstates Egypt’s dissolved lower house; SCAF holds emergency meeting (alethonews.wordpress.com)
JUBA – The Chairperson of South Sudan’s Civil Society Alliance, Deng Athuai, who is a prominent anti-corruption and human rights activist, was found by the side of a road in Juba on Saturday tied in a sack and severely beaten, according to military sources.
A military intelligence source told Sudan Tribune that Athuai was found “crying inside sack along the road side” between Kabur-tit and Gumba forest by the South Sudan security services.
Athuai is reported to have been taken to the Juba Teaching Hospital and is in a “coma”, according to a nurse who did not wish to be named.
“Athuai is suffering for internal wounds in his stomach, head, eye, feet and throat”, the nurse told Sudan Tribune.
The executive director of the Civil Society Alliance, Biel Boutros Biel told South Sudan Radio on Friday that Athuai had disappeared after leaving his residence at the Beach Hotel in Juba on Wednesday.
Boutros, who heads the South Sudan Human Rights Advocacy Association (SSHRAA), said that he suspected that his colleague, who has been instrumental in anti-corruption campaigning and other issues, had been kidnapped. He refused to speculate over who could be responsible.
Athuai was among the activists that marched to South Sudan’s parliament demanding the government publish the names of the officials alleged to have stolen a total of $4 billion since 2005.
South Sudan celebrates it’s first year as an independent nation on Monday 9 July, having voted to secede from Sudan after decades of civil war. Greater human rights, better governance, freedom of expression and association were among the causes the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) stated as it’s aims during the 1983-2005 conflict.
The SPLA is now South Sudan’s official army, while the SPLM is the country’s ruling party. Corruption, human rights abuses and insecurity are some of the major internal issues facing the young nation.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir wrote to 75 senior officials on 3 May asking them to return stolen money.
“We fought for freedom, justice and equality,” President ’Kiir’s letter reads. “Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people.”
Human Rights Watch and other groups are taking the opportunity of South Sudan’s first independence anniversary to urge the SPLM to mark the occasion by freeing all unlawfully detained prisoners, guaranteeing freedom of speech, and accelerating ratification of key international human rights treaties.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others of called on Juba to take steps to ensure that security forces are held accountable for human rights abuses.
Major General Mac Paul, the deputy director of military intelligence for South Sudan, told Sudan Tribune that he did not know what had happened to Athuai.
Police have surrounded the area around the parliament
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to decide in a meeting on President Mohamed Morsi’s order to reconvene the dissolved parliament.
Shortly after the announcement of Morsi’s order on Sunday, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) held an emergency meeting, but it did not take any concrete action.
The military authorities are set to convene once again to discuss the consequences of the decree by the newly-elected president.
The Egyptian president ordered the country’s dissolved parliament to resume its legislative work, rejecting the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court’s ruling that said the country’s parliamentary elections about 7 months ago were unconstitutional.
The Egyptian president also called for holding new parliamentary elections within 60 days of the ratification of the new constitution for the North African state.
Protests have been going on since the junta dissolved the country’s parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s junta also took control of the state budget and gave itself veto power on a new constitution, making the new president almost powerless through a recent constitutional declaration.
Despite Morsi’s calls for resumption of parliament’s legislative work, police have surrounded the area around the parliament , making the entrance to the parliament building almost impossible for lawmakers.
- Morsi reinstates Egypt’s dissolved lower house; SCAF holds emergency meeting (alethonews.wordpress.com)