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Experts: Israel’s weapons are not precise

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog from Nazareth | August 1, 2014

Here is an article with lots of useful information about how “indiscriminate” Israel’s weapons really are. This interests me a great deal because I have been raising problems about the interpretation of international law used by leading human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, on this point since the 2006 Lebanon War.

At that time I got into a dispute with HRW’s Middle East policy director, Sarah Leah Whitson, who argued that Hizbullah was committing war crimes by definition when it fired rockets at Israel, even if it hit military targets, because those rockets were primitive and inherently inaccurate. By contrast, Israel’s missiles were not inherently inadmissible because they were considered by HRW to be precise (see my articles here and here.) That was clearly nonsense in 2006. During the war, Israel dropped millions of cluster munitions – little bomblets that serve effectively as land mines – all over southern Lebanon, endangering the whole civilian population of the area.

But Norman Finkelstein recently pointed out the more general problem with this view:

By this standard, only rich countries, or countries rich enough to purchase high-tech weapons, have a right to defend themselves against high-tech aerial assaults. It is a curious law that would negate the raison d’être of law: the substitution of might by right.

It may not be entirely surprising that HRW and others interpret international law in a way that serves rich and powerful western states, however many civilians they kill, and criminalises developing states, however few civilians they kill. The current fighting in Gaza illustrates this point in dramatic fashion. Some 95% of the Israelis who have been killed during the fighting are soldiers; some 75% of the Palestinians who have been killed are civilian.

But this Guardian article adds another layer of insight into HRW’s dubious distinctions. Ignore the irritating framing of the article, which suggests that the high Palestinian death toll may be down to human or systems errors. Experts discount this theory in the article and also point out that Israel is often not checking whether its shooting is accurate. In short, it gives every indication of not taking any precautions to ensure it is hitting only military targets (or rather targets it claims are military in nature) – that recklessness makes it fully culpable.

But we also have experts here who make the point that much of Israel’s precise weaponry is not precise at all.

Andrew Exum, a former US army officer and defence department special adviser on the Middle East, who has studied Israel’s military operations, says this:

There are good strategic reasons to avoid using air power and artillery in these conflicts: they tend to be pretty indiscriminate in their effects and make it difficult for the population under fire to figure out what they’re supposed to do to be safe.

“Pretty indiscriminate”! So doesn’t that mean Israel was committing war crimes by definition every time it made one of those thousands of air strikes that marked the start of Operation Protective Edge, and that it is continuing to make now?

But it’s not just strikes from the air that are the problem. There’s more:

However, military analysts and human rights observers say the IDF is still using unguided, indirect fire with high-explosive shells, which they argue is inappropriate for a densely populated area like Gaza …

[Israel's 155m howitzer] shells have a lethal radius of 50 to 150 metres and causes injury up to 300 metres from its point of impact. Furthermore, such indirect-fire artillery (meaning it is fired out of direct sight of the target) has a margin of error of 200 to 300 metres.

Read that again: a margin of error of up to 300 metres, plus a lethal radius of up to 150 metres and an injury radius of 300 metres. So that’s a killing and injury zone of close to half a kilometre from the intended “precise” site of impact. In a territory that is only a few kilometres wide. In short, the main shell Israel is using in Gaza is entirely imprecise.

Set aside what Israel is trying to do in Gaza. Let’s assume it is actually trying to hit military targets rather than being either reckless about hitting civilian targets or deliberately trying to hit civilians, as much of the evidence might suggest.

Even if we assume total good faith on Israel’s part that it is trying to hit only Hamas and other military sites, it is clear it cannot do so even with the weaponry it has. The inherent imprecision of its arsenal is compounded many fold by the fact that it is using these weapons in densely built-up areas.

So when are we going to hear HRW or the UN’s Navi Pillay stop talking about proportionality or Israel’s potential war crimes, and admit Israel is committing war crimes by definition?

August 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli forces abduct shepherd, goats from southern Lebanon

Al-Akhbar | July 30, 2014

Israeli occupation forces snuck into Lebanon and abducted a shepherd from the southeastern town of Shebaa at dawn Wednesday, one day after they stole a herd of goats from the same area, state media reported.

Ismail Khalil Nabaa was kidnapped in Shebaa and taken to the nearby occupied Shebaa Farms area.

UNIFIL is working to secure his release, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA ) said.

The owners of the kidnapped herd, Mohammed Khalil Nabaa and Khodour Hamdan, said they had escaped an Israeli ambush on Lebanese territory on Tuesday.

The report did not speculate over why Israeli forces kidnapped the goats and shepherd.

MP Qassem Hashem called Nabaa’s kidnapping a violation of national sovereignty and international charters, NNA reported.

“The Zionist enemy continues its aggression, abducts Lebanese shepherds and seizes their flocks. The UNIFIL must fully perform its duty,” the NNA quoted him as saying.

July 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Nasrallah: Israel on a path towards “suicide” in Gaza

Al-Akhbar | July 25, 2014

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday praised the Palestinian resistance defending Gaza from Israel’s ongoing assault on the besieged strip, saying that Israel was failing in its war and headed on a path of suicide.

“Gaza today is holding funeral processions for its martyrs, and has achieved victory in resistance,” Nasrallah said in a rare live appearance from a complex in Beirut’s southern suburbs to mark the annual Jerusalem Day.

“When we reach day 18 [of the Israeli assault] and the Zionists together with the world are incapable of achieving any goal in Gaza, it means the resistance has achieved victory in Gaza.”

“[Former defense minister] Ehud Barak … had said in any future war waged by Israel in Gaza will lead to a very quick and decisive victory.”

“Gaza today is responding and saying ‘You the cowardly people who hide behind warplanes and kill children, if you confront our heroes you will be defeated and your army will be defeated’,” Nasrallah said.

“I say to the Zionists, You in Gaza are working within the circle of failure. Don’t go beyond Gaza to the circle of suicide,” Nasrallah added.

Over 800 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them civilians, have been killed since Israel launched its terror campaign against Gaza on July 8.

“The Israeli army didn’t go to war as an army which is fighting. It went as an army which kills children. This is the army we knew in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said.

“We must salute the souls of the martyrs of Gaza and the wounded of Gaza and the mujaheddin and heroes of Gaza and the people of Gaza who are standing with steadfastness on this day,” he added.

Palestinian fighters in Gaza have vowed to press on with the war until Israel ends its eight-year-long land, air and sea blockade of the strip, which prevents the movement of people and goods, including the importation of basic necessities and medicine.

Nasrallah said those demands were just.

“The siege means death on a daily basis for the people of Gaza, not for 18 days but for years. I must repeat, there must be political, media, financial, material support and support with arms,” he said.

“We must remind everyone here, Iran and Syria together with the resistance in Lebanon, and especially Hezbollah in accordance with its capabilities, for many long years never spared any efforts in supporting the Palestinian resistance — politically, on media, morally, financially, from material angles, weapons, logistical support and expertise.”

Nasrallah also said despite all the attempts by Israel to divide Palestinians and force them to abandon their cause, they remained strong willed to return to their land.

“Despite all their pain and suffering and wounds and massacres and all the factors of despair and frustration, they did not surrender and they did not forget,” Nasrallah said.

“Palestinian people in and out of Palestine and in refugee camps, despite harsh living conditions and incentives for emigrating to Canada and Australia and Europe in order to fragment and divide this Palestinian human body, despite all this the Palestinians held on to their land and cause and farms and fields, and they rejected to surrender and to bow down.”

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rockets from Lebanon Land in Israeli Settlement, Zionist Army Retaliates

Al-Manar | July 11, 2014

Twenty five Israeli shells have so far fallen on Kfarshuba outskirts, Halta and Majidiyah causing only material damages, the National News Agency reported.

Zionist army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said artillery units had fired a barrage at “suspicious positions” sighted over the border.

This came as unknown persons fired at dawn today two 107mm Katyusha rockets which landed in the area east of Metula settlement on the border with Lebanon. Lebanese army intelligence inspected the area where the rockets were being launched and found two more missiles ready for launching and defused them immediately. Another rocket exploded while still on its launchpad.

The Lebanese army found military gear in Ain Arab, reports also said.

The Army Command issued on Friday the following statement: “Today, between 1:00 and 6:00 in the morning, an unknown party fired three rockets from the area of Marjayoun – Hasbaya towards the occupied Palestinian territory. Afterwards, the army conducted patrols in the area and carried out a wide-scale search operation in which it found two platforms with two rockets set for launching, while the military expert arrived to the scene and worked on disabling the platforms.”

The Zionist army said one projectile fired from Lebanon struck “northern Israel” causing no harm or damages. “One projectile hit an open space near Kfar Yuval, between (northern Israeli towns) Metula and Kiryat Shmona,” a military spokeswoman told Agence France Presse.

The Zionist officials said it was unlikely the rockets were fired by Hezbollah and believed they were fired by a small Palestinian group in solidarity with Gaza.

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

US blacklists companies accused of Hezbollah ties

Al-Akhbar | July 10, 2014

The United States moved Thursday to blacklist a group of companies it claimed covertly helped Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement acquire components for surveillance drones.

The US Treasury placed sanctions on Beirut-based Stars Group Holding, which it said purchased electronics and other technology via offices in China and Dubai to support Hezbollah’s military operations.

That included the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that the Treasury claimed were used against rebels in Syria and for surveillance of Israeli sites.

The material bought by Stars Group included engines, communications, electronics, and navigation equipment acquired from suppliers in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

It named for sanctions the company, its subsidiaries, its owner, executives Kamel Amhaz and Issam Amhaz, and two Stars Group managers, Ayman Ibrahim and Ali Zeaiter.

The sanctions place a freeze on any of their assets under US jurisdiction and ban Americans from any business with them.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

July 10, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Massive Attack against Zionist War Machine

Open Letter Welcoming Massive Attack

Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon | July 8, 2014

Dear Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall,

On behalf of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, we are delighted to welcome you to Lebanon for your forthcoming performance on July 29 at the Byblos International Festival, and to salute Massive Attack’s commitment to justice for Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Our campaign is one of solidarity with the Palestinian people, struggling against racism, dispossession, apartheid and occupation under Zionism, but it is also a form of resistance by the Lebanese people themselves. Tens of thousands of Lebanese have been killed by Israel over 66 years of multiple invasions and bombing campaigns targeting residential areas, medical facilities, and fundamental infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been denied their right to return to their homes and lands – for which they have been struggling for over 66 years.

Through your active engagement and public support of the boycott of Israel, you are taking a stand against the bombs, the invasions, and the war machine of apartheid Israel.

On far too many occasions, we write to artists to call upon them to cancel their performances in Israel before they plan to perform in Lebanon. It is, therefore, a refreshing change to instead write to you welcoming your visit to Lebanon. Through your active engagement and public support of the boycott of Israel, you are taking a stand against the bombs, the invasions, and the war machine of apartheid Israel.

We are particularly delighted to hear Robert Del Naja stating that: “If the EU and the US pressured Israel for change and forced the end of the blockade, we might get somewhere. That pressure should also come culturally… So it doesn’t sit right for me to go back to Tel Aviv while there is a giant wall and an economic stranglehold on a whole nation of people.”

It is particularly important for artists and cultural workers, and for bands whose music, like yours, is heard around the world, to be heard clearly upholding Palestinian rights and refusing to engage with occupation – and Massive Attack presents an excellent example to other international cultural performers in this regard. We fully support Del Naja’s comments that “musicians have a major role to play…I find the more I get involved, the more the movement becomes something tangible. I remember going to ‘Artists Against Apartheid’ gigs, and ‘Rock Against Racism’ gigs around the same sort of time.” The legacy of cultural campaigns for justice in the past continues today in the cultural boycott of Israel.

We would like to invite you to meet with us during your visit to Lebanon, and arrange for you to visit Qana, the site of the 1996 and 2006 massacres of civilians by Israeli airstrikes; the detention centers in South Lebanon, where Israeli forces imprisoned Lebanese; and the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. We would also like to discuss your involvement in cultural boycott and support for Palestine with Lebanese campaigners.

Again, we welcome you to Lebanon and salute your ongoing commitment to keep up the needed pressure through refusing to be part of the cultural machinery of war, apartheid, and occupation and supporting the Palestinian, Arab and international “picket line” boycotting Israel.

Best regards,

Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon

The Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon started in 2002 after the massacre in the Jenin refugee camp, and they are the first country-based BDS organization that documents, exposes, and protests Lebanese companies dealing with Israel.

July 8, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

US House awards Gold Medal for war criminal Shimon Peres

Peres-Obama-640x326

Photo - Sultan/thepoliticalforums.com
Aletho News | May 21, 2014

The US House of Representatives on Monday voted to give the Congressional Gold Medal to Israel’s outgoing president, Shimon Peres.

The bill which authorizes the creation of the gold medal and its award to Peres, HR 2939,  is co-sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA). It touts Peres’ “pivotal role in forging the strong and unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel” and states that “[b]y presenting the Congressional Gold Medal … Congress proclaims its unbreakable bond with Israel and reaffirms its continual support for Israel.”

The following excerpt from an open letter by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel recounts Peres’ career, emphasizing a record of war crimes:

On 18 April 1996, when Israel still occupied southern Lebanon, Shimon Peres was Prime Minister. He was in the midst of an election campaign, so he took a decision to do something to change his “dovish” image because doves are not respected in Israel. He launched “Operation Grapes of Wrath” causing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them fleeing to a UN base in Qana, South Lebanon.

On 18 April the Israeli army shelled the UN shelter in Qana, killing 102 civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly. Many more were injured. Human Rights Watch, the UN and Amnesty International subsequently disproved the myth that the Israeli army did not deliberately intend to shell the UN base. Shimon Peres said at the time, “In my opinion, everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way. I am at peace.”

The Qana massacre led to Shimon Peres being denied the job he coveted at the time: that of UN Secretary-General. He should have been denied it anyway for being the architect of Israel’s nuclear programme — one which remains outside the scrutiny of the world even as Israel bays for the cessation of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

Peres is on record for being responsible for other war crimes, from building colonies on occupied Arab land to endorsing a policy of extra-judicial killings, which murders Palestinians and other Arabs without the benefit of a trial or, in fact, any proof other than that provided by Israeli Intelligence, the Shin Bet. He also supports the siege on Gaza, the destruction of its airport, and the elaborate system of checkpoints all across the West Bank. He defends the demolition of Palestinian homes, and he justified the atrocities committed by the Israeli army in its recent war on Lebanon in 2006.

Peres is also on record for defending land gained during war, claiming that Israel has the right to the Golan Heights because it was gained during war.

A Senate version of the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), passed by unanimous consent in March.

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

Is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon covering up the bribery of witnesses?

Al-Akhbar | May 15, 2014

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) does not miss an opportunity to undermine its credibility and damage its image. This behavior is not restricted to the public prosecutor’s office, but to the trial chamber itself, which is supposed to be keen on implementing justice and presenting a positive image of the tribunal to the public.

The latest development is a decision issued by the tribunal’s First Chamber, which is in charge of trying the defendants in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The decision stipulated concealing the amount of money that the public prosecutor’s office pays to witnesses under the rubric of “expenses.” On May 9, the tribunal issued a decision granting the prosecution’s office the right to conceal the amount from the defense teams.

The decision came after the defense team for Hussein Oneissi requested that the tribunal order the prosecution’s office to disclose information it has on whether two of the public prosecution’s witnesses or members of their families were paid money from the office itself, from the international investigation committee or from the Lebanese authorities. Oneissi’s defense team argued that the issue is relevant to its defense strategy since it casts doubt on the credibility of some of the witnesses the public prosecutor is going to present to the court. After deliberations, the court decided to keep the matter a secret and not force the public prosecutor to disclose the information.

According to the decision, the tribunal reviewed similar cases in other international courts whereby it became evident that courts cover the expenses and costs of witnesses living in the Netherlands. Besides, some international courts (and national ones, according to the STL’s First Chamber) have developed clear standards under which they pay the “expenses of the witnesses.” It added that some courts pay the witness a monthly stipend in lieu of their salary that they were receiving as compensation for moving to the Hague to testify. The amount is equivalent to the minimum wage that a United Nations employee earns in the country where the witness comes from. The tribunal pointed out that it reviewed the amounts that the prosecution’s office paid as expenses to the witnesses and found them “reasonable.” It added that the defense team did not present proof that the two witnesses received sums beyond what is deemed reasonable. Therefore there is no need to reveal how much was paid as expenses to them.

But neither the prosecution nor the tribunal were able to rule out whether the two witnesses or one of them or members of their families received money from parties other than the prosecution’s office. This will continue to be a point of contention in the future because of how deeply it affects the credibility of the witnesses’ testimonies, especially those that the public prosecution is going to present as witnesses to be relied on to convict the defendants even though their testimonies have changed from one stage of the investigation to another.

In another matter, the public prosecutor gave a bizarre excuse for not giving the defense team of one of the defendant’s documents it requested that include information on students at one of Lebanon’s universities between the years 2004-2005 in addition to information about specific individuals at the same university in 2006. The public prosecution’s office had received this information from the Lebanese authorities which never denied any of the former’s requests. The public prosecutor cited several reasons for turning down the defense team’s request including the claim that this information would enable the defense team to breach the confidentiality of one of its witnesses.

But the most bizarre and most laughable excuse is the public prosecutor’s claim, in his letter to the tribunal on May 9, 2014, that handing over this information to the defense team might “violate the privacy of these students.” Let’s remember that the public prosecution’s office had insisted on getting the Lebanese people’s telecom data, health records, university records, travel records, insurance records and market licenses and – as experience has shown – was unable to protect its records and prevent them from being leaked. This same office is now claiming to care for the privacy of Lebanese students in order to prevent the transfer of information about them to their own colleagues – the defense lawyers – at the tribunal.

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Possible Iranian-Saudi rapprochement to impact region

By Elie Chalhoub | Al-Akhbar | May 14, 2014

Statements by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday point to a significant development in the relationship with Iran. Saudi’s so called “hawk” and Iran’s number one enemy in the kingdom is now welcoming a dialogue with the Islamic Republic. But the implications will not be felt in Tehran or Riyadh, but in Baghdad, Homs, Beirut, and Vienna.

Saudi Arabia’s call for a dialogue with Iran is no small matter, neither in its substance, “to settle differences and make the region safe and prosperous,” or in its timing, regionally, internationally, and in relation to the nuclear issue, or the fact that it was issued by one of the kingdom’s most hawkish members.

Information from Tehran maintains “the Iranian position did not change.” It indicated that, “ever since President Hassan Rouhani reached power, [Iran] declared its openness to dialogue with the Saudis and announced the issue publicly several times.” This included statements during the recent tour of Gulf countries by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, in which he kept hoping to visit Riyadh. However, “the rejection was also coming from the Saudis, despite all the openness to reconciliation expressed by Iran.”

According to the same sources, several mechanisms were proposed to start a constructive dialogue, following negotiations through Omani mediation. Muscat was later forced to suspend its role after its relations with Saudi Arabia began to falter. However, a few months ago, Kuwait took up the mantle and became the main mediator between the two sides. The sources revealed that one such mechanism was suggested by the Saudis and entailed parallel trust-building steps. They would begin with a meeting between representatives of both countries’ foreign ministers, then between the two actual foreign ministers, and then to ultimately have a visit by Rouhani to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah.”

The information, which was obtained from circles concerned with relations between Tehran and Riyadh, maintained that the Saudis recently proposed through the Kuwaitis a visit by assistant Iranian foreign minister, Amir Abdel-Lahian, to hold talks. However, “Iran was not satisfied with the suggestion. They believed the atmosphere in Saudi and that surrounding the proposal, its mechanisms, and the position and authority of negotiators from either side would not lead to a serious breakthrough.”

So why did the invitation come now, at this particular time? And what are the motives behind it?

The sources point to the wider picture. “The Iraqi elections show that [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki will have a larger parliamentary bloc than in the previous parliament and it is certain that he will continue through a third term. This is in addition to the latest developments in Homs, which means that the axis supporting [Syrian] President [Bashar] al-Assad now has the upper hand on the ground. There is also the situation in Lebanon, which shows beyond doubt that there will be no presidential elections, without the consent of the axis of resistance. It seems all those factors, including pressure by the US and the push by Kuwait, led the Saudis to take such a step.”

US pressure was manifested in the visit by US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, meeting with the kingdom’s leadership to discuss the Syrian and Iranian files. Kuwait’s push, on the other hand, will be apparent during the visit by the Kuwaiti Emir to Tehran on June 1. He is expected to discuss bilateral relations, including disagreements concerning the continental shelf. But the essence of the meetings will be relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Saudis in particular, in addition to Syria and other matters.

The Saudi foreign minister had announced earlier that the kingdom sent out an invitation to Mohammed Javad Zarifi, “We want to meet with him. Iran is a neighbor with whom we have relations and we will conduct negotiations with Iran.”

Faisal was speaking at a press conference during the First Forum on Economy and Cooperation of Arab Countries with the Central Asian States and the Republic of Azerbaijan. “We will talk to them and if there are disagreements we will settle them in a manner that will satisfy both countries,” he explained. “We also hope that Iran would join the efforts to make the region safe and prosperous and not be part of the problem of a lack of security in the region.”

Saud al-Faisal also expressed the desire to resume contacts between the two countries as expressed by Iran’s president and foreign minister, “We sent out an invitation to the [Iranian] foreign minister to visit Saudi Arabia, but the will to make the visit has not become a reality yet. However, we will meet him anytime he wishes to come.”

Whether by coincidence or planning, Hagel’s visit and Faisal’s call coincided with the final phase of nuclear talks between Iran and the West. But it came at a time when Zarif had just arrived to Vienna to head the delegation to the nuclear talks.

What is certain, however, are the statements by Ali Khamenei on Tuesday and the several signals he gave, which aimed to provide an umbrella to the Vienna negotiations. He emphasized that the US is unable “to do anything rash, militarily or otherwise…We depend on our own powers, strengthening them and focusing our efforts on our own potential, which will defeat plans by the Americans and other powers to force the Iranian people to surrender through exerting pressures.”

Khamenei spoke in front of a large crowd of residents in the Ilam province on the anniversary of Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb’s birth. “The major powers ought to know that the Iranian people will not yield to their ambitions, because it is a living people and its youth are moving and acting in the right direction.”

These clear words are perhaps behind Zarif’s assertions from Vienna that “the difficult part” had only started and the desired deal might be aborted, even in the absence of a consensus on just “2 percent of the topics for discussion.” Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 groups is entering a new highly sensitive phase, with the drafting of what has become known as the “final agreement.” Tuesday night, Zarif met with the EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the P5+1 countries, over dinner. Actual negotiations will begin on May 14 and will continue until Friday.

Unlike previous sessions, Zarif and Ashton will be heading most of the meetings.

The most contentious issue in this round is the item related to the Arak heavy water reactor, which the West wants closed, and the ability to enrich uranium, which Iran hopes to keep.

The West’s belief that it could reach some kind of nuclear deal is probably due to both sides’ need for an agreement. In addition to building his foreign policy on reaching a settlement with Iran, US President Barack Obama has his hands tied in congressional midterm elections at the end of this year. It has become clear that he needs a foreign victory to ensure the victory of his party, especially after the collapse of his project for the Arab Spring and failing to reach a Palestinian-Israeli settlement or to topple Bashar al-Assad, not to mention his crisis in Ukraine.

Rouhani, on the other hand, seems to be betting on a nuclear deal that would lift the sanctions, and thus improve the economic situation inside Iran, which would give him leverage over his fundamentalist opponents. However, he realized, albeit late, that international sanctions are linked to four files, of which nuclear power is a minor issue. The other three are terrorism, human rights, and the rockets. The sanctions would only be lifted after closing all four files. And even if that happened, Obama has to solve his problems with the US Congress, which still rejects any lifting of sanctions against Iran.

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

German forces raid offices of “Hezbollah affiliated” charity

Al-Akhbar | April 8, 2014

German authorities on Tuesday raided the offices of a charity organization that allegedly has ties to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, accusing it of raising money for the group.

Around 150 police officers searched premises across six states and confiscated cash, computers and around 40 boxes of files.

Two bank accounts with a total of around 60,000 euros were frozen but no arrests were made, the German interior ministry said.

The ministry said it had outlawed the “Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon” (Orphan Children Project Lebanon) with immediate effect.

“The name of the group masks its actual purpose,” ministry state secretary Emily Haber said in a statement.

She said the organization based in the western city of Essen had raised 3.3 million euros ($4.5 million) in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid Foundation, which supports families of fallen Hezbollah fighters.

Haber claimed the funds were used to recruit fighters “to combat Israel, also with terrorist measures” and compensate the families of suicide bombers.

The statement did not cite its evidence. Hezbollah used to carry out suicide missions against Israeli occupation forces in South Lebanon prior to their retreat in 2000.

The group has not used that tactic since Israel pulled its army from Lebanon 14 year ago.

“Organizations that directly or indirectly from German soil oppose the state of Israel’s right to exist may not seek freedom of association protection,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in the statement.

He said the group’s goals violated Germany’s constitution.

The European Union in July last year also listed Hezbollah’s so-called military wing as a “terrorist organization.” But the EU said it would continue to deal with Hezbollah as a political entity.

The German interior ministry said it had put Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon, which has about 80 members, under surveillance since 2009.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

German forces raid offices of “Hezbollah affiliated” charity

Al-Akhbar | April 8, 2014

German authorities on Tuesday raided the offices of a charity organization that allegedly has ties to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, accusing it of raising money for the group.

Around 150 police officers searched premises across six states and confiscated cash, computers and around 40 boxes of files.

Two bank accounts with a total of around 60,000 euros were frozen but no arrests were made, the German interior ministry said.

The ministry said it had outlawed the “Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon” (Orphan Children Project Lebanon) with immediate effect.

“The name of the group masks its actual purpose,” ministry state secretary Emily Haber said in a statement.

She said the organization based in the western city of Essen had raised 3.3 million euros ($4.5 million) in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid Foundation, which supports families of fallen Hezbollah fighters.

Haber claimed the funds were used to recruit fighters “to combat Israel, also with terrorist measures” and compensate the families of suicide bombers.

The statement did not cite its evidence. Hezbollah used to carry out suicide missions against Israeli occupation forces in South Lebanon prior to their retreat in 2000.

The group has not used that tactic since Israel pulled its army from Lebanon 14 year ago.

“Organizations that directly or indirectly from German soil oppose the state of Israel’s right to exist may not seek freedom of association protection,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in the statement.

He said the group’s goals violated Germany’s constitution.

The European Union in July last year also listed Hezbollah’s so-called military wing as a “terrorist organization.” But the EU said it would continue to deal with Hezbollah as a political entity.

The German interior ministry said it had put Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon, which has about 80 members, under surveillance since 2009.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

April 8, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nasrallah: Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria was ‘very late’

Excerpts from the latest comments of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the Syrian war and the nature of his party’s military intervention in the conflict:

From the beginning as well – you see, the problem that the other (political) group in Lebanon had with us, and (the problem) that governments and regimes in the Arab and Islamic world had, and (the problem that) governments and regimes throughout the world had (with us), on the Syrian issue, is due to our political stance, (and) not our military intervention. Our military intervention came late, and as is said, it occurred after all (sides) intervened, and (after) all sides had come, and (after) all sides had fought. We came very late.

The problem was our political stance. That we got up from the first day, and said that: we are not with this conflict (taking place) in Syria, we are not with the toppling of the regime and the state, we are with reforms, with a political solution, with political dialogue, with achieving legitimate demands being called for by the people, yet we are not with anyone in Syria going out to break, bring down, destroy, and ruin (Syria), and to imposing major strategic choices on (Syria) – and the (real) issue is here, before reforms and demands, the (real) issue is the major strategic choices.

Okay, we took this stance, and there was a large group that was acting (based upon another) stance. What was required from us was that we move along with that stance, that we become a part of it. Because we did not become a part of it, the war became against us as well. So the issue essentially relates to our political stance, and not the military intervention. [...]

Okay today, (Turkey), a member of NATO, and a candidate for the European Union, is busy preparing for a regional war and a direct intervention into Syria, with the pretext that there is a tomb for the first grandfather of Bani Othman – of the Ottoman state – and that the ISIL might… maybe they themselves may request the ISIL to demolish it. [...]

We said from the beginning, that what will happen in Syria will expose the whole region to the danger of terrorism and takfir. And you said no, the story is not as such, you said the story in Syria is one of reforms, change, democracy, and human rights. And now, what is the situation, which you yourself talk about? You yourselves, after three years… You speak of Syria, (especially) the territory that is controlled by the armed groups, as a threat to the regional states, and as a threat to the states of the world.

Now, after three years, of your funding, and your arming, and your incitement, and your pushing towards military solutions, and your obstruction of political solutions, and your protection of the armed groups, you came to form a terror list, and you placed most of these armed groups on this terror list. Well, what remained anyway? Of course, regardless of our stance towards this list, when you come and say regarding Syria, that the ISIL, al-Nusra, and the Muslim Brotherhood, you come and say these are terrorists, well then, what else remains? Who else remains? [...]

And if the takfiri terrorist movement is defeated in Syria, then I say to you, we will all remain. If this axis triumphs in Syria, all the Lebanese will be safeguarded. This axis does not seek revenge, it seeks security, it seeks harmony, it looks for strength, it does not look for revenge. Here, there lies major national choices, let us come and decide.

 

This video is an English-subtitled excerpt from a speech delivered on 29/03/2014.

Full transcript:

The last issue which I would like to mention and end with, is that today, the whole campaign regarding the issue of the resistance in Lebanon, is focusing on one of my main points, that is, our intervention in Syria. He comes and tells you: ‘you intervened in Syria, so now the national consensus is gone – we already dealt with this (point)’. ‘You intervened in Syria, so now the role of the weapons has changed, they are no longer resistance weapons’. Well, were these arms ‘resistance weapons’ for you to begin with? In any case, all of this is being said.

And this intervention and stance is currently considered the main problem being put forward on a regular basis, from some time till now, and it’s put forward every day. I would like to – because this issue is occupying the country and us all – comment on it a bit in the last section of my speech. From the beginning as well – you see, the problem that the other (political) group in Lebanon had with us, and (the problem) that governments and regimes in the Arab and Islamic world had, and (the problem that) governments and regimes throughout the world had (with us), on the Syrian issue, is due to our political stance, (and) not our military intervention. Our military intervention came late, and as is said, it occurred after all (sides) intervened, and (after) all sides had come, and (after) all sides had fought. We came very late.

The problem was our political stance. That we got up from the first day, and said that: we are not with this conflict (taking place) in Syria, we are not with the toppling of the regime and the state, we are with reforms, with a political solution, with political dialogue, with achieving legitimate demands being called for by the people, yet we are not with anyone in Syria going out to break, bring down, destroy, and ruin (Syria), and to imposing major strategic choices on (Syria) – and the (real) issue is here, before reforms and demands, the (real) issue is the major strategic choices.

Okay, we took this stance, and there was a large group that was acting (based upon another) stance. What was required from us was that we move along with that stance, that we become a part of it. Because we did not become a part of it, the war became against us as well. So the issue essentially relates to our political stance, and not the military intervention. There is something huge going on in the region, come forward and become a part of it, otherwise, prepare yourself for execution. This was the storm that was coming to our region.

What was required is that we all kneel before it, or that we all be lead by it, with it, or that we all humble ourselves before it. Meaning at the very least, that you humble yourself before this storm. We, did not become a part of it, nor did we move along with it, nor did we humble ourselves towards it. Because we considered that this storm poses major strategic and existential threats that concern Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, and the whole region, and we sufficiently explained this in the past, so we will not repeat it. And so we took a political stance. With time, yes, our stance gradually changed, we went to the battlefield – even if I take a few more minutes. Okay, all the Lebanese know this, we spoke about it in the media, and some sharply criticised us also due to providing such details: the first military intervention, which was (very) limited, meaning a few dozen men from Hezbollah, occurred when the brothers went to the Western Ghouta (region), to the town of Sayyeda Zeinab – peace be upon her. So about one year and half ago, or a bit more. When most of the Western Ghouta area was taken over by the armed groups – not all, most of it, and the armed groups became 200 meters away from the shrine of Sayyeda Zeinab (peace be upon her), and our calculations were that, firstly, due to the religious significance of this shrine, for all Muslims, and secondly, that the destruction of this shrine will lay the foundation for, or ignite sectarian strife in more than one region in the Islamic world, okay, so let us go help, there were Syrian army (forces) over there, and national defence (forces), and the people and residents of the town were defending (as well), we sent a few dozen individuals to help defend (the area). That’s it. Okay, this stance was criticised. Today, there is a very grand state – it considers itself as such – a state within the Atlantic Alliance (NATO), which is working hard to become a part of the European Union, and some consider it as a model, meaning Turkey.

‘The first letter of its name is Turkey’. Okay, Turkey… today, the Turkish government sits and discusses: there is a grave or tomb for the great grandfather of Bani Othman, who, if you now ask all the Islamic people: ‘what is his name?’ – I myself don’t know his name to be honest. I don’t hide this from you, I read (the name), but then I forgot it, and I didn’t manage to get the name again for you. Okay, who knows about him in the Islamic world, what is his significance for the Muslims? What does he signify for the conscience and sentiments of the Muslims, whether they were Shias or Sunnis?

Despite this, it’s okay, it is Turkey’s right to think over whether it should intervene militarily, and to violate the sovereignty of another state, that is the Syrian state, and to make plans e.t.c., because there is a possibility that the ISIL may come to this shrine and blow it up. Okay, why is it right for you to do – since we are speaking (today) about literature, poetry, and grammar – why is it right for you to do (this), and not for us?

We went to defend a shrine that is respected by all Muslims, and to (defend) a personality who is respected and considered holy by all Muslims, because she is the granddaughter of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him & his progeny. Who is (the personality) over whom you’ve come to wage a regional war over? You are coming to wage a regional war. Okay, and in that case there is a genuine threat, whereas in this case there isn’t. And more than this, we did not violate Syrian sovereignty, of course this is nothing new, President Bashar spoke about this issue some time ago, because some people asked him, he said no, the resistance entered Syria with the agreement of the Syrian government. Now someone will tell me, you violated Lebanese sovereignty – there is argument over this.

However, at the very least, we did not violate Syria’s sovereignty. Okay today, a member of NATO, and a candidate for the European Union, is busy preparing for a regional war and a direct intervention into Syria, with the pretext that there is a tomb for the first grandfather of Bani Othman – of the Ottoman state – and that the ISIL might… maybe they themselves may request the ISIL to demolish it. God knows best of course.

Okay. Things gradually moved to Qusayr and what followed Qusayr, and you all know this, until we reached a stage in which it became clear that the conflict in Syria reached a point, as a result of the extent of the international and regional interference, and the mobilisation that brought tens of thousands of fighters from all around the world to Syria, the issue, with all frankness, and we have said this before, and I want to reiterate it, the issue no longer became (limited to) Sayyeda Zeinab and the Lebanese residing on Syrian territory, from that time the issue became related to the resistance, the axis of resistance, the future of the resistance and the political identity of the region, and where we were heading, and we said all of this. Why am I repeating it now, not to fill up time, (rather), to speak of outcomes, and results, at this point. Okay, currently where have we reached, where are we now?

From the beginning we said ‘political solution’. The Arab League got up, wanting to be decisive, wanting to topple the regime: it does not accept a political solution before the departure of President al-Assad and his regime. Okay, after three years, you saw the latest decisions of the Arab Summit, so did we require three years, of war, killings, fighting, destruction, ruin, strife, and tribulations, for the Arabs to speak what they should have spoke from the beginning? And for the Arabs to move forward with that which they should have moved forward with from the beginning?

So now what is required is that we should go see how we can pressure the regime in Syria and President Bashar al-Assad, (because) we want to achieve a political solution, and a real political dialogue, and because Geneva 2 has reached an impasse. Now (you speak this)? Well, you – in the first few months, when it was said to you that dialogue is possible, and that the Syrian leadership is ready to carry out drastic and fundamental reforms, not one of you was prepared to discuss the idea of a political solution or a political dialogue, on the basis of: ‘everything is over, in a few months everything will be over in Syria and the region’. We told you ‘political solution’, and you went to the military solution. Now you have reached what you were being told from the beginning. Of course, this talk is (directed) at the Arabs, at the other (political) group in Lebanon, and at the states that continue to intervene in this conflict.

We said from the beginning, that what will happen in Syria will expose the whole region to the danger of terrorism and takfir. And you said no, the story is not as such, you said the story in Syria is one of reforms, change, democracy, and human rights. And now, what is the situation, which you yourself talk about? You yourselves, after three years… You speak of Syria, (especially) the territory that is controlled by the armed groups, as a threat to the regional states, and as a threat to the states of the world.

Now, after three years, of your funding, and your arming, and your incitement, and your pushing towards military solutions, and your obstruction of political solutions, and your protection of the armed groups, you came to form a terror list, and you placed most of these armed groups on this terror list. Well, what remained anyway? Of course, regardless of our stance towards this list, when you come and say regarding Syria, that the ISIL, al-Nusra, and the Muslim Brotherhood, you come and say these are terrorists, well then, what else remains? Who else remains? In all frankness…

Okay, did the issue require three years, for the region and the world to discover that what is taking place in Syria will lead to this result? And of course, there are some Lebanese who have not discovered this (even) till now. Till now they have not discovered, that what is taking place in Syria is a threat to Lebanon. Well come on, the Americans who are so far away, the French, the Europeans, some of the Gulf states, and the states of North Africa, consider Syria – the territory which is controlled by the armed groups – as a source of danger to their states and security. And this is really the case. Even in calm arenas, where no calls were made for fighting and clashes, and for ‘holy jihad’, (yet) now it has begun, such as in Tunisia.

And unfortunately, some get up in Lebanon and tell you, no, what is taking place in Syria is not a threat to Lebanon. We told you from the beginning, what is taking place in Syria has passed the stage of demands for reforms and democracy, to the (stage of) the (rise and) dominance of the takfiri militant movement, which does not accept anyone alongside it, even from within the takfiiri militant movement, as is occurring between the ISIL and al-Nusra, whereby they both belong to one thought, one sect, one school, one leadership, and one emir, and one political project, and the difference between them is over a small organisational, administrative issue, just like what happens in any party or organisation, that is, whether this person is the leader, or that person is the leader. The whole conflict is (over) whether the leader is Abu Muhammad al-Golani, or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Who paid the price? Thousands of casualties. Thousands of casualties, widespread destruction, fierce fighting, (merely) over an organisational, administrative disagreement. How can such (groups) live with all the Lebanese, with the rest of the Lebanese, with the rest of the Syrians, with the rest of the neighbouring states and people?

If your brothers, loved ones, dear ones, and allies – we want to term it like that, meaning that we don’t want to say ‘your masters’, (if they) discovered now that this is the reality of the situation, then why are you still delayed? Stubbornness is okay, only if it is not at the expense of Lebanon, and the fate and future of Lebanon.

It was continuously said to us from a year and a half ago, and every day this is said to us, by some political blocs and sides, calling on Hezbollah to leave Syria. I don’t want to sit here and respond. Today, I myself want to call on you: go ahead and change your stance. Revise your stance. Carry out a revision of the stance. Carry out a new (political) reading. I am not going to tell you, come and fight with us in Syria. This is not required. No no, this is not required. And in actual fact, there are people, Lebanese groups from various sects, who proposed to us – and this might be the first time I speak of this – that they come up and fight alongside us, yet we told them there is no need. Do not hold this political and social burden. We’ve already held this burden and we are moving with it.

Those who are insisting every day that the problem in Lebanon is that Hezbollah went to Syria, I say that the problem in Lebanon is that Hezbollah was late in going to Syria, and that the problem in Lebanon is that you are still in your places and you did not go to Syria, rather, if some of you went, you went to the wrong place. Now I’m not going to tell you to go to Syria, nor to fight with us, no, but revise your stance on this issue. Day after day, the correctness and soundness of the decisions we took is being confirmed, and I will also like to say – also perhaps for the first time with such frankness – if the takfiri terrorism is victorious in Syria, I say to all the Lebanese, and to all the political movements and parties, whether from 14th or 8th (of March), or whether in the center, on the right, or on the left, if the takfiri terrorism triumphs in Syria, we will all be eliminated. Not just the party (Hezbollah), nor just the resistance, all of us will be eliminated, we will all be cancelled out. Don’t you see what is happening in Alleppo, Idlib, Raqqa, and in Deir Azzour, and in Fallujah, and in Anbar. Ask, ask about it, but don’t ask the secularists, ask the Islamists, ask the Islamic parties in those areas about what had occurred to them.

And if the takfiri terrorist movement is defeated in Syria, then I say to you, we will all remain. If this axis triumphs in Syria, all the Lebanese will be safeguarded. This axis does not seek revenge, it seeks security, it seeks harmony, it looks for strength, it does not look for revenge. Here, there lies major national choices, let us come and decide.

April 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

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