Iran plans to accomplish one of the main objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since its inception by launching the movement’s international news agency.
Mohammad Sheikhan, deputy head of the 16th NAM summit for public relations and communications, said in a Tuesday briefing in the Iranian capital city, Tehran, that the establishment of the news agency has long been an unfulfilled objective of the NAM.
“Since Iran assumes the presidency of the NAM for the next three years, we plan to establish the news agency and the decision will soon be put into action,” he said.
The 16th summit of the NAM member states will be held on August 26-31 in the Iranian capital, Tehran, during which the Islamic Republic will assume the rotating presidency of the movement for three years.
Sheikhan expressed Iran’s readiness to provide media coverage for the summit and noted that Tehran will prepare all the equipment required by the press.
NAM, an international organization with 120 member states and 17 observer countries, is considered as not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
The organization was founded in the former Yugoslavia in 1961. NAM’s purpose, as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979, is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries.”
Venezuela has become a full member of the Mercosur regional trading bloc following a six-year-long delay.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is now set to take part in a ceremony in Brasilia, which celebrates Caracas’ membership in the South American trade bloc.
The visit to Brasilia will be Chavez’s first official trip abroad in a year after his being diagnosed with cancer in June 2011 and his treatment process in Cuba.
Mercosur is an economic union and political agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay founded in 1991. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency.
The bloc’s combined market encompasses more than 250 million people and accounts for more than three-quarters of the economic activity on the continent, or a combined GDP of USD 1.1 trillion.
Although the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay had approved Venezuela’s admission into the bloc in 2006, the accession was delayed pending ratification by the Paraguayan congress.
This is while Paraguay has recently been suspended from the group over the controversial dismissal of President Fernando Lugo.
The lower house of the Paraguayan congress impeached Lugo on June 21. The senate opened his trial a day later and quickly reached a guilty verdict, ousting the president.
Mercosur’s leaders did not impose economic sanctions on Paraguay, but banned Paraguayan officials from participating in the bloc’s meetings.
Paraguay’s suspension created an opportunity for Venezuela to be incorporated into the bloc since the opposition in the Paraguayan congress was the only obstacle to Caracas’ membership.
- Venezuela to join Mercosur on July 31 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
If you’ve watched the Olympics on NBC you’ve probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin, and with no apparent role for reality.
The ads brag about the use of real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably wouldn’t try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in “war competition” on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” will be shot and killed is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).
RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.
“Stars Earn Stripes” is being produced by the TV “genius” behind Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Husband Todd Palin is a “Stars Earn Stripes” co-star.) NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event. But the sport it’s exhibiting is war.
On “Stars Earn Stripes,” celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including “long-range weapons fire.” Only there won’t be any of the killing or dying.
Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly. NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs. Other nations’ media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.
NBC news programs have repeatedly used retired generals, pretending independence but getting their pro-war talking points from the Pentagon. See New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand and Glenn Greenwald: The Pulizer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV.
In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events. Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda. While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can’t seem to get enough of our tax dollars. In the spirit of transferring veterans’ care to the realm of private charity, “Stars Earn Stripes” will give prize money each week to “military-based charities” in order to “send a message.”
One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy — rather, as financial profit. (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war. And consider for a moment who that retired general is. During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark, civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him. See Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians.
StarsEarnStripes.org is asking NBC to stop treating war as a sport, and to air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months. We’ve provided some resources to help NBC research and show the reality of war, at http://StarsEarnStripes.org
This week, the Senate will be voting on a slew of amendments to the newest version of the Senate’s cybersecurity bill. Senators John McCain and Kay Bailey Hutchison have proposed several amendments that would hand the reins of our nation’s cybersecurity systems to the National Security Agency (NSA). All of the cybersecurity bills that have been proposed would provide avenues for companies to collect sensitive information on users and pass that data to the government. Trying to strike the balance between individual privacy and facilitating communication about threats is a challenge, but one thing is certain: the NSA has proven it can’t be trusted with that responsibility. The NSA’s dark history of repeated privacy violations, flouting of domestic law, and resistance to transparency makes it clear that the nation’s cybersecurity should not be in its hands.
In case you need a refresher, here’s an overview of why handing cybersecurity to the NSA would be a terrible idea:
- An executive order generally prohibits NSA from conducting intelligence on Americans’ domestic activities
Executive Order 12333 signed by President Reagan in 1981 (and amended a few times since1), largely prohibits the NSA from spying on domestic activities:
no foreign intelligence collection by such elements [of the Intelligence Community] may be undertaken for the purpose of acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons.
If amended, the Cybersecurity Act would allow the NSA to gain information related to “cybersecurity threat indicators,” which would allow it to collect vast quantities of data that could include personally identifiable information of U.S. persons on American soil. Law enforcement and civilian agencies are tasked with investigating and overseeing domestic safety. The NSA, on the other hand, is an unaccountable military intelligence agency that is supposed to focus on foreign signals intelligence—and it’s frankly dangerous to expand the NSA’s access to information about domestic communications.
- NSA has a dark history of violating Americans’ constitutional rightsIn the 1960’s, a Congressional investigation, led by four-term Senator Frank Church, found that the NSA had engaged in widespread and warrantless spying on Americans citizens. Church was so stunned at what he found, he remarked that the National Security Agency’s “capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, andno American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything.” (emphasis added) The investigation led to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provided stronger privacy protections for Americans’ communications—that is, until it was weakened by the USA-PATRIOT Act and other reactions to 9/11.
- NSA has continued its warrantless wiretapping scandalIn 2005, the New York Times revealed that the NSA set up a massive warrantless wiretapping program shortly after 9/11, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and several federal laws. This was later confirmed by virtually every major media organization in the country. It led to Congressional investigations and several ongoing lawsuits, including EFF’s. Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act to granttelecom companies retroactive immunity for participating in illegal spying and severely weaken privacy safeguards for Americans communicating overseas.Since the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) passed, the NSA has continued collecting emails of Americans. A 2009 New York Times investigation described how a “significant and systemic” practice of “overcollection” of communications resulted in the NSA’s intercepting millions of purely domestic emails and phone calls between Americans. In addition, documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU, although heavily redacted, revealed “that violations [of the FAA and the Constitution] continued to occur on a regular basis through at least March 2010″— the last month anyone has public data for.
- NSA recently admitted to violating the Constitution.Just last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—which oversees the NSA—begrudgingly acknowledged that “on at least one occasion” the secret FISA court “held that some collection… used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” Wired called it a “federal sidestep of a major section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” and it confirmed the many reports over the last few years: the NSA has violated the Constitution.
- NSA keeps much of what it does classified and secretBecause cybersecurity policy is inescapably tied to our online civil liberties, it’s essential to maximize government transparency and accountability here. The NSA may be the worst government entity on this score. Much of the NSA’s work is exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure because Congress generally shielded NSA activities from FOIA2. Even aside from specific exemption statutes, much information about NSA activities is classified on national security grounds. The NSA has also stonewalled organizations trying to bring public-interest issues to light by claiming the “state secrets” privilege in court. EFF has been involved in lawsuits challenging the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program since 2006. Despite years of litigation, the government continues to maintain that the “state secrets” privilege prevents any challenge from being heard. Transparency and accountability simply are not the NSA’s strong suit.
We remain unconvinced that we need any of the proposed cybersecurity bills, but we’re particularly worried about attempts to deputize the NSA as the head of our cybersecurity systems. And even the NSA has admitted that it does “not want to run cyber security for the United States government.”
Thankfully, new privacy changes in the cybersecurity bill heading towards the Senate floor have explicitly barred intelligence agencies like the NSA from serving as the center of information gathering for cybersecurity. We need to safeguard those protections and fend off amendments that give additional authority to the NSA. We’re asking concerned individuals to use our Stop Cyber Spying tool to tweet at their Senators or use the American Library Association’s simple tool to call Senators. We need to speak out in force this week to ensure that America’s cybersecurity systems aren’t handed to the NSA.
- 1. Executive Order 12333 was amended in 2003 by Executive Order 13284, in 2004 by Executive Order 13355, and in 2008 by Executive Order 13470. The resulting text of Executive Order 12333 is available here (pdf).
- 2. Three of the most common statutes that NSA uses to fight transparency: Section 6 of the National Security Agency Act of 1959 (Public Law 86-36, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 402 note), which provides that no law shall be construed to require the disclosure of, inter alia, the functions or activities of NSA; The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 403- 1(i), which requires under the Responsibilities and Authorities of the Director of National Intelligence that we protect information pertaining to intelligence sources and methods; and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 798, which prohibits the release of classified information concerning communications intelligence and communications security information to unauthorized persons.
- Congress Must Act After US Government Admits To Unconstitutional Warrantless Wiretapping For the First Time (eff.org)
- Why won’t the Obama administration reveal how many Americans’ emails the NSA has collected and reviewed without a warrant? (eff.org)
- NSA whistle blowers allege data being collected on every American (rawstory.com)
- Why won’t the Obama administration reveal how many Americans’ emails the NSA has collected and reviewed without a warrant? (informationliberation.com)
A former CIA analyst says the United States and Israel seek to come up with a pretext for attacking Iran by fabricating intelligence, a ploy similar to the one adopted by the United States for justifying the war on Iraq a decade ago.
“As we saw 10 years ago with respect to Iraq, if one intends to whip up support for war, one needs to find a casus belli – however thin a pretext it might be,” Ray McGovern wrote in an article.
“How about juxtaposing ‘weapons of mass destruction’ with terrorism. That worked to prepare for war on Iraq, and similar rhetorical groundwork for an attack on Iran is now being laid in Israel,” his article further read.
Referring to the recent attack on a number of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, McGovern said, “Netanyahu broke all records for speed in blaming Iran and Hezbollah” for the bombing.
“On Fox News, Sunday on July 22, Mr. Netanyahu claimed Israel has ‘rock-solid evidence’ tying Iran to the attack in Bulgaria. The same day on CBS’s Face the Nation, Mr. Netanyahu said, ‘We have unquestionable, fully substantiated intelligence that this [terrorist attack] was done by Hezbollah backed by Iran,’ adding that Israel gives ‘specific details to … responsible governments and agencies,’” McGovern went on to say.
The former CIA analyst added that Israel, however, has so far failed to provide any evidence for its claims of Iran’s involvement.
“Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has admitted that he was aware of no information concerning the terrorist or those who dispatched him,” he underlined.
McGovern then refered to the historical moment when British intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove admitted that intelligence on Iraq had been fixed.
“… Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove [executed Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein], through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” Dearlove said on July 23, 2005.
“The likelihood of hostilities with Iran before the [US] presidential election in November is increasing. Beware of “fixed” intelligence,” McGovern concluded.
- Will Downing St. Memo Recur on Iran? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Progressive-left media persist in acting as propaganda outlets for the US-NATO destabilization of Syria, thus placating a politically conscious audience that might otherwise be mobilized against acts of imperialism and violence. The historical record suggests how this is not the first time “Progressive publicists” were used to sell a war.
A recent report in the UK Guardian by Charlie Skelton explains that Western news outlets remain willing victims (or accomplices) in a propaganda campaign for US -NATO led Syrian intervention being carried out by skilled and well-financed public relations practitioners. According to Skelton, “the spokespeople, the ‘experts on Syria’, the ‘democracy activists’ … The people who ‘urge’ and ‘warn’ and ‘call for action’” against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well-heeled public relations effort to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. “They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change,” Skelton reports,
“and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.”
If one thinks that a revelation of this magnitude would be cause for other major Western news media to reassess their reportage of the Syrian situation they would be greatly mistaken. Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now is a case in point. Since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” color revolutions the foremost broadcast venue of “independent” progressive-Left journalism in the United States has used its reportage to obfuscate and thereby advance the campaign for regime change in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. The tactics of disinformation and death squads employed in Libya and Syria should be easily recognizable since they were refined against popular Central American moves toward popular enfranchisement by the Reagan administration during the 1980s.
As Finian Cunningham recently observed  Democracy Now’s adherents look to Goodman on a regular basis because of her perceived credibility; she is the self-avowed “ exception to the rulers”—a tireless crusader against the restrictive corporate media where there remains a “deafening silence … around the issues—and people—that matter most.” Today Goodman’s vaunted program is contributing to the very violence being committed by Western-backed mercenaries against the Syrian people.
Goodman and similar Left media are engaging and convincing precisely because of their posturing against corporate media control, economic exploitation and war mongering. Occupying the outer contours of National Public Radio’s milquetoast programming, Democracy Now’s self-described “independent” reportage takes on a certain aura of authenticity among its supporters—mainly progressives with concerns for social justice and human rights.
Such characteristics make Goodman and Democracy Now among the most effective sowers of disinformation. Further, their role in assuaging an educated and otherwise outspoken audience serves only to aid and abet the wanton military aggression Goodman and her cohorts claim to decry. In light of the program’s broader coverage of the “Arab Spring,” such reporting must be recognized and condemned as sheer public relations for NATO and the Obama administration’s campaign of perpetual terrorism and war on humanitarian grounds.
On July 19, shortly after interviewing a mysterious “Syrian activist” who allegedly participated only with the assurance of anonymity, Democracy Now brought on McClatchy’s Beirut correspondent David Enders, who presented the US-NATO-backed mercenary army’s actions that resulted in the deaths of high-level Syrian government officials as part of a spontaneous popular revolution that was gaining momentum.
“We’ve seen the rebellion grow in numbers and as far as its organizational capability. And they’ve attempted to strike at Assad and his inner circle multiple times … I think what we’re seeing is just the government crumbling under the weight of a massive rebellion. It simply can’t put it down.”
Goodman and Democracy Now are in fact upholding progressive journalism’s greatest perversion: consciously using the public’s faith in its performance and moral rectitude to promote the latest war—a tradition that dates back almost one hundred years. At that time journalists with public personae remarkably similar to Goodman’s were employed to persuade the American public on US entry into World War One. This was done with the government’s careful consideration of how ostensibly liberal crusaders were held in high regard by the broader public.
In April 1917, when Democratic President Woodrow Wilson led America into the war that he promised would “make the world safe for democracy,” he called on some of America’s foremost progressive journalists to “sell” the war to a reluctant American population through the greatest propaganda campaign ever put together. Wilson’s anxiety over securing liberal support for the war effort brought him to recognize how well known “Progressive publicists” exercised credibility in the public mind through their previous work in exposing government and corporate corruption. One such journalist was George Creel, who Wilson tapped to lead the newly formed Committee on Public Information (CPI). New Republic editor Walter Lippmann and “father of public relations” Edward Bernays were also brought on board the elaborate domestic and international campaign to “advertise America.”
Because of Creel’s wide-ranging connections to Progressive writers throughout the US, Wilson was confident that Creel would be successful in getting such intellectual workers on board the war effort, “to establish a visible link between liberal ideals and pursuit of the war,” Stuart Ewen observes. “On the whole, Wilson’s assumption was justified. When the war was declared, an impassioned generation of Progressive publicists fell into line, surrounding the war effort with a veil of much-needed liberal-democratic rhetoric.”
Well known for his derisive critiques of big business interests, such as the Rockefellers and their infamous role in the Ludlow massacre, Creel was the perfect candidate to lead a propaganda apparatus at a time when suspicion toward “a ‘capitalists’ war’” was prevalent. “When the moment to lead the public mind into war arrived, the disorder threatened by antiwar sentiments—particularly among the lower classes—was seen as an occasion that demanded what Lippmann would call the ‘manufacture of consent.’” 
The sales effort was unparalleled in its scale and sophistication. The CPI was not only able to officially censor news and information, but to manufacture it. Acting in the role of an advanced and multifaceted advertising agency, Creel’s operation “examined the different ways that information flowed to the population and flooded these channels with pro-war material.”
The Committee’s domestic organ was comprised of 19 subdivisions, each devoted to a specific type of propaganda, one of which was a Division of News that distributed over 6,000 press releases and acted as the chief avenue for war-related information. On an average week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns carried data provided through CPI propaganda. The Division of Syndicated Features enlisted the help of popular novelists, short story writers, and essayists. These mainstream American authors presented the official line in a readily accessible form reaching twelve million people every month. Similar endeavors existed for cinema, impromptu soapbox oratory (Four Minute Men), and outright advertising. 
Creel himself recalls the unparalleled efforts of the thought control apparatus he oversaw to sell the war to a skeptical American public
”It is a matter of pride to the Committee on Public Information, as it should be to America, that the directors of English, French, and Italian propaganda were a unit in agreeing that our literature was remarkable above all others for its brilliant and concentrated effectiveness.”
Alongside Creel’s recollections, out of their experiences in the CPI the liberal-minded Lippmann and Bernays wrote of their overall contempt for what they understood as a malleable and hopelessly ill-informed public that could not be trusted with serious decision-making. In their view, public opinion had to be created by an “organized intelligence” of technocrats (Lippmann) or “engineered” by “an invisible government” (Bernays), with the average citizen relegated to the role of idle spectator.
Given the backdrop of progressive-left journalists’ lengthy and ardent opposition to the Bush-Cheney policies of Nazi-like atrocities and plunder, venues such as Democracy Now are poised to serve as platforms for disseminating the necessary disinformation to make the Obama administration’s color revolutions and “humanitarian” policy of military interventions seem palatable to the very audiences whose sensibilities are most opposed to violence and imperialism.
The phenomenon attests to the sophistication and efficiency of modern publicity efforts that genuinely alternative news outlets have long pointed to, the gullibility of many on the Left, and the extent to which vintage propaganda techniques never truly die. Rather, they are consistently refined and expanded in anticipation of shifting public sentiment and rationales for deception.
 Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking?” Guardian, July 12, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking
 Finian Cunningham, “’Democracy Now’ and the ‘Progressive’ Alternative Media: Valued Cheerleaders for Imperialism and War,” July 13, 2012, GlobalResearch.ca, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31874
 Amy Goodman with David Goodman, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them, New York: Hyperion, 2004, 7.
 Fact Sheet: A Comprehensive Strategy and New Tools to Prevent and Respond to Atrocities, White House Press Release, August 4, 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/23/fact-sheet-comprehensive-strategy-and-new-tools-prevent-and-respond-atro
 Democracy Now! “Back From Syria Reporter David Enders Says Assad Regime Crumbling to ‘Grassroots Rebellion,’” July 19, 2012, http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/19/back_from_syria_reporter_david_enders. The observation, emblematic of Democracy Now’s overall Libyan and Syrian coverage, stands in stark contrast to the stories from genuine alternative news outlets providing important reports and analyses explaining the root causes of the Syrian unrest. For example, see Thierry Meyssan, “How Al Qaeda Men Came to Power in Libya,” Voltairenet.org, 7 September 2011; Tony Cartalucci, A Timeline & History: One Year Into the Engineered ‘Arab Spring,’ One Step Closer to Global Hegemony,” December 24, 2011, Land Destroyer Report, http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/2011-year-of-dupe.html; Webster Tarpley, “NATO-Backed Death Squads Basic Cause of Syria Unrest,” PressTV, May 10, 2012; Stephen Lendman, “Syria at the Crossroads: Is US-NATO Contemplating a Plan B? GlobalResearch.ca, April 2, 2012,
 Stuart Ewen, PR! A Social History of Spin, New York: Basic Books, 1996, 109-110.
 Aaron Delwiche, Propaganda: Wartime Propaganda: World War I, The Committee on Public Information, Accessed July 20, 2012 at http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/ww1.cpi.html; George Creel, “How We Advertised America, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1920. Available at http://archive.org/details/howweadvertameri00creerich
 Creel, 113.
 Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York: Free Press, 1997 (1922); Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda, New York: Ig Publishing, 2005 (1928); See also Lippmann, The Phantom Public, New York: Transaction Publishers, 1927, and Crystallizing Public Opinion, New York: Bonni and Liveright, 1929.
James Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is an associate of Project Censored and blogs at memorygap.org.
- “Democracy Now” and the “Progressive” Alternative Media: Valued Cheerleaders For Imperialism and War (weeklyintercept.blogspot.com)
A member of Turkey’s parliament says the country’s Hatay Province on the border with Syria has become a hub for swarms of CIA and Mossad spies infiltrating into Syria freely.
The legislator of the Republican People’s Party, Refik Er-Yilmaz, said that thousands of CIA and Mossad agents are currently in the province and are moving freely in the area, Turkish media reported.
He noted that local people in the province are getting agitated over the presence of the strangers.
Turkish police remain mute spectators as the spies carry various types of identification, Er-Yimaz went on to say.
He also accused the authorities of allowing American and Israeli troopers on Turkish soil without any approval from the parliament.
Er-Yilmaz’s comments came after the deputy of the Republican People’s Party, Osman Faruk Logoglu, on Monday blamed Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party for fomenting the unrest in Syria.
Logoglu criticized the Turkish government for aggravating the situation by sending military forces and vehicles towards the Syrian border.
The former Turkish ambassador to the United States also criticized Turkey’s foreign policy towards its neighbor, saying it has been irrational and unsuccessful.
Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of many people, including large numbers of security forces.
Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
- Turkey could strike PKK terrorists in Syria: Premier Erdogan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Bulldozers carry out work on a pathway next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson, File)
JERUSALEM – The deputy leader of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal al-Khateib, said Tuesday that the Israeli municipal council of Jerusalem planned to transform the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound into public parks and gardens, to make them accessible for the Jews to visit at any time.
Speaking to reporters, Al-Khateib said that the process of ‘Judaising’ Jerusalem had been accelerated since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. “The occupation is working to efface the Palestinian features in the holy city through unprecedented procedures they carried out this month,” he added.
“For the first time, the occupation has allowed settlers and extremists to access Al-Aqsa compound during Ramadan paying no attention to the feelings of the Muslim worshipers there,” he said. “Meanwhile, the municipality which represents the occupation approved a decision to consider the yards in Al-Aqsa compound public parks which anybody can access.”
In mid-July Palestinian officials denounced Yehuda Weinstein, the Israeli attorney general, after he claimed that the Al-Aqsa area was part of Israel and referred to the mosque’s courtyards as public space.
Weinstein was quoted on Israeli news sites as saying the area was under Israeli jurisdiction for matters such as planning and building, and said the courtyard was for public use.
In his remarks Tuesday, Al-Khateib said soldiers detained the imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday while he was praying. “Israeli troops stormed the mosque and prevented worshipers from completing their prayer,” he said.
On Thursday a mosque guard told Ma’an that 20 rightists entered the grounds of the holy site.
- Israel destroys Umayyad palaces next to Al-Aqsa Mosque (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Islamic official: Al Aqsa belongs to Muslims, not Israel (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian Youths detained, beaten and banned from al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli Intelligence (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Army Invades Al-Aqsa Mosque, Attack Worshipers, kidnaps two (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
JORDAN VALLEY — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday morning confiscated two farm tractors used to transport water supplies to Bedouin hamlets near Khirbet Al-Mita village in the northern Jordan Valley region.
Head of the municipal council of these Bedouin areas Aref Daraghmeh said the IOF took the tractor in order to punish the Bedouin communities for their steadfastness against Israel’s attempt to evacuate them from their native land.
Daraghmeh stated that Israeli troops stormed Khirbet Al-Mita village and seized two tractors less than 24 hours after they ordered the Bedouin shepherds to stop erecting tents and demolish their homes and structures in the area.
He affirmed that the act was aimed at forcing the Bedouin communities to leave the area.
For his part, Hasan Makhamra, a Bedouin native, said this Israeli campaign started two months ago during which the IOF confiscated dozens of water containers used for drinking supplies.
Makhamra asserted that the Bedouin families direly need these containers to supply themselves with water after Israel appropriated water springs, wells and resources.
He pointed out that Israel extends its control over 98 percent of water resources in the Jordan Valley including the Jordan river and the dead sea for the benefit of about 7,000 Jewish settlers living in settlement outposts near the Bedouin areas.
In a separate incident, the IOF closed two roads used by Palestinian farmers in the vicinity of Deir Estia village in Salfit city, thus raising the number of agricultural roads closed in the village to six.
This Israeli measure is aimed to enable the Jewish settlers to tighten their control over the area near Qana Valley.
Head of Deir Estia municipal council Nadmi Salman said an Israeli bulldozer escorted by troops closed the roads of Abu Naser and Qattan Al-Jamea with soil barriers and huge boulders.
He added that the closure of these two roads prevented the Palestinian farmers from reaching their agricultural lands.
- Bedouins forced to leave their homes to make way for Israeli maneuvers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jordan Valley: Palestinian family’s water confiscated, internationals arrested (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Report details Israeli violations and seizure of West Bank land (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- New Israeli colony in Abu al Ajaj (alethonews.wordpress.com)
On Tuesday the Israeli military raided several refugee camps south of Hebron and detained two residents. Five more Palestinians were arrested simultaneously around the West Bank.
The arrests of seven Palestinians on Tuesday morning as part of strategic Israeli raids into refugee areas continued what has already been a violent week in the West Bank. A series of raids into Palestinian homes and villages led to the arrest of two Palestinians near Hebron and five others around the West Bank, according to Ma’an News. The Israeli military has released no charges for the detainees or any cause for the raids.
The violence on Tuesday followed shocking news from Monday in which three Palestinians were shot at an Israeli checkpoint between the West Bank capital of Ramallah and occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli military released no reason for the shooting but sources did confirm that 40-year old Akram Dair was killed, reports Al Jazeera.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has blamed the Israeli military for the checkpoint killing, reports Ma’an News. The Israeli military has released no comment on what it simply referred to as ‘the incident’.
News of killings is often followed by other news of arrests in the immediate area or elsewhere in the Occupied Territories. Some have argued that the summary harassment and arrest of Palestinians is a tactic where raids are used as a means to stamp out local resentment for Israeli killings. The raids on Tuesday are not necessarily linked directly to Monday’s killing, but it is further evidence of Israeli occupation strategy.
- French activist injured as Israeli troops attack Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Hebron: Over 30 detained (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- #VIDEO | Israeli soldier headbutts Palestinian teen (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Nablus: night raids and arrests (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Australia to investigate Israeli treatment of Palestinian children (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Three days before the start of Ramadan, the small mountainside town of Iraq Burin was attacked by Israeli settlers from the illegal colony of Bracha. The attackers descended from the settlement at 12:30 a.m. and were soon followed by the Israeli military, shooting tear-gas and sound grenades.
“Since Ramadan started, things have been relatively calm here,” says Yousef, a resident of Iraq Burin, “earlier we used to have trouble all the time.”
Ironically, the settler attacks are most common on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, which traditionally is revered as a day of rest.
“But there have also been plenty of attacks on Wednesdays and Thursdays,” says Yousef.
The settlers target farmers closest to the settlement, making it impossible for them to work their land due to risk of being attacked or shot. The farmers’ lack of activity is then used against them as settlers claim the land to be abandoned and subsequently annex it. By these means, the illegal settlements across the West Bank continue to steal the lands of neighboring Palestinian villages.
Bracha is one of over 250 Israeli settlements and outposts erected in the Palestinian West Bank and violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. “Seizure of land for settlement building and future expansion has resulted in the shrinking of space available for Palestinians to sustain their livelihoods and develop adequate housing, basic infrastructure and services,” wrote the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
From Yousef’s rooftop one can see clearly where the irrigated fields of Bracha have stretched down into the valley since its construction in the early 1980′s.
Of the 2000 dunums that originally was Iraq Burin, 300 have been annexed by the settlement of Bracha and many hundreds have become inaccessible to Palestinians due to the risk of violent attacks. To protest this, the village has been holding demonstrations every Saturday for the past year. Similar to numerous protests across the West Bank, Iraq Burin’s regular demonstrations are met with brute force by the Israeli army.
“The failure to respect international law, along with the lack of adequate law enforcement vis-àvis settler violence and takeover of land has led to a state of impunity, which encourages further violence and undermines the physical security and livelihoods of Palestinians. Those protesting settlement expansion or access restrictions imposed for the benefit of settlements (including the Barrier) are regularly exposed to injury and arrest by Israeli forces,” noted OCHA.
For a short while, the demonstrations ceased after 2 young men, Muhammad and Usaid Qadus, were shot dead at close range by an Israeli soldier.
“But our peaceful struggle will continue among both the young and the old,” promises Yousef.
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