Aletho News


Any conflict on Iran is a direct threat to Russia’s security – Rogozin

RT | 13 January, 2012

The escalating conflict around Iran should be contained by common effort, otherwise the promising Arab Spring will grow into a “scorching Arab Summer,” says Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister and former envoy to NATO.

­“Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,” stressed Rogozin.

Dmitry Rogozin, who served as Russia’s special envoy to NATO in 2008-2011, was appointed deputy prime minister by Vladimir Putin in December. On Friday he was bidding farewell to his NATO colleagues in the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

As for Syria, if NATO persists in interfering in its affairs, a catastrophe will be hard to avoid, said Rogozin, talking to journalists on the premises of the Russian mission to the alliance.

“The example of Libya should have cooled everybody down in matters dealing with foreign civil wars,” he said, stressing that this is his personal point of view.

“Syria must be left alone and the sides to the conflict must be assisted in breaking the stand-off and starting negotiations. No one must interfere with Syria. This is dangerous,” added Rogozin.

The West’s attempts to improve democracy in the Middle East and North Africa have resulted in Islamists coming to power. It is now up to the West to decide how comfortable they feel with neighbors who determine their politics with Sharia law, says Rogozin.

“If we add the escalating tensions around Iran to the situation in Syria and the consequences of the Libyan war, then the upcoming ‘scorching’ Arab Summer, which is following the Arab Spring, will hardly be to anyone’s taste.”
Russia’s response will make AMD ‘a waste of money’

Despite his recent promotion, Rogozin is still in charge of Russia-NATO discussions on anti-missile defense (AMD) issues.

A legal binding that the European and American missile defense systems will not target Russia has not been taken off the table, Rogozin pointed out.

“It seems strange that it is Russia who is required to show flexibility. This is not our project. If an architect is building a house, it is up to him to offer a design which would not violate property rights, area design and neighbors’ interests. So it is our US colleagues who should demonstrate miraculous flexibility to ensure that their AMD system does not violate the interests of other countries if it is to be located in Europe.”

Rogozin also called on European leaders to stop being “political puppets” in the AMD game, adding that everyone should stand for their own interests, not for some “Atlantic solidarity.”

If Moscow’s position is ignored and the range of the US anti-missile defense system covers the European part of Russia, this will be considered a situation requiring defensive action.

“I will certainly ensure Russia will give a corresponding technical response if the AMD system endangers our national interests. This will result in the American AMD being considered a waste of money,” said Rogozin.

Russia has everything needed to annihilate any attempt “to strip” its strategic potential, he added. This also means the era of imported weapons is coming to an end.

In a farewell gesture, Rogozin said he was considering planting a tree in the alliance’s headquarters. Symbolically enough, this would be a poplar, or “topol” in Russian, which brings up associations with Russia’s modern intercontinental ballistic missiles Topol-M.

But NATO replied that planting a tree within the headquarters perimeter “is not possible,” so the tree will have to be planted nearby.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | 1 Comment

Israeli journalist with intel ties hints at Mossad role in Iran scientist murders

By Ali Abunimah – The Electronic Intifada – 01/13/2012

Ron Ben-Yishai, an Israeli journalist with close ties to the military-intelligence establishment, hints strongly that Israel’s Mossad is behind the spate of murders of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Earlier this week Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was killed in Tehran when assassins on motorcycles attached a bomb to his car. The campaign of murders, Ben-Yishai writes on Ynet, is aimed at “killing the brains” behind Iran’s nuclear program. He adds:

The assassination of Iranian experts is meant to deter other scientists, including foreign ones, from getting involved in such projects. The eliminations also slow down these projects and force Tehran to reorganize. Moreover, killing key figures in vital projects greatly embarrasses the Iranian regime and security forces. Such operations portray the establishment as an incompetent bunch that time after time fails in safeguarding vital interests.

Mossad fingerprints

And then under a subheading titled “Mossad fingerprints?” Ben-Yishai writes:

All indications show that a state organ is behind the assassinations. Only a state has the resources required to carry out the kind of operations executed in Iran. This includes investment in intelligence gathering that identifies the targets and prioritizes them, the investment of time and sophisticated means in preparing an operation against people or locations that are usually under heavy guard, as well as the recruitment and training of the perpetrators. National spy agencies are virtually the only ones that possess such capabilities.

For these reasons, the Iranians and the international media tend to point to the CIA or Israel’s Mossad as the parties responsible for the assassinations and blasts in Iran. However, official American and Israeli spokespeople have not claimed responsibility for such operations.

In fact, the United States categorically denied involvement in the latest killing. Only Israel refuses to deny it, although the Israeli military spokesman expressed satisfaction with the killing.

Israel is prime suspect

Ben-Yishai’s article although it does not directly confirm the Israeli role will only adds to indications Israel is responsible. Even The New York Times now seems to take this for granted. Scott Shane reported on 12 January:

As arguments flare in Israel and the United States about a possible military strike to set back Iran’s nuclear program, an accelerating covert campaign of assassinations, bombings, cyberattacks and defections appears intended to make that debate irrelevant, according to current and former American officials and specialists on Iran.

The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on Wednesday when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran’s morning rush hour.

Recall that Israel – which has a long history of carrying out murders and bombings all over the world – was caught red-handed murdering a senior member of Hamas in Dubai hotel room in early 2010.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 1 Comment

We Remember: Tom Hurndall

13 January 2012 | International Solidarity Movement
(27 November 1981 – 13 January 2004)

Tom was 21 years old when he was shot. A photography student, he had left the UK to volunteer as a ‘human shield’ in Iraq. Here he heard about the ISM, one of whose volunteers, Rachel Corrie, had just been killed by a bulldozer whilst protesting house demolitions in Rafah. He headed there himself, arriving on the 6th April.

On the day of his shooting, Tom was with other ISM activists walking through Rafah when Israeli sniper fire started. Almost everyone ran for safety, but Tom noticed that three children, aged between four and seven, had remained motionless, paralysed with fear. Tom went back for them. He got the little boy to safety, and then went back for the two girls. He was wearing a fluorescent vest, and was clearly unarmed. An Israeli sniper shot him in the head.

There was a two hour delay at the border of the Gaza Strip before an ambulance was able to take him to a hospital in Be’er Sheva. In a coma, he was transferred to a hospital in the UK, where he died the following year.

The soldier who shot him, Taysir Hayb, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eleven and a half years in prison. A British inquest into the killing found that the killing was intentional – in other words, murder.

Tom’s shooting followed the murder of Rachel Corrie, run over by a bulldozer on the 16th March, and the near fatal shooting of Brian Avery, shot in the face in Jenin on April 5th. Later that month, another Brit, filmmaker James Miller, was also killed by a sniper in Rafah. The Israeli military have refused to accept any responsibility for what they did to Rachel, Brian or James.

Hurndall was trying to save Palestinian homes and infrastructure but frequently came under Israeli fire and seemed to have lost his fear of death. “While approaching the area, they (the Israelis) continually fired one- to two-second bursts from what I could see was a Bradley fighting vehicle… It was strange that as we approached and the guns were firing, it sent shivers down my spine, but nothing more than that. We walked down the middle of the street, wearing bright orange, and one of us shouted through a loudspeaker, ‘We are International volunteers. Don’t shoot!’ That was followed by another volley of fire, though I can’t be sure where from…” – The Independent, 2009

Tom Hurndall was a young man with a dream…he paid for it with his life. –The Telegraph, 2004

Tom, blind to nationalities and borders, exuded humanity. He wanted, he wrote in his journal, “to make a difference”. He did. He also had an outrageous sense of humour and will be missed, most of all, because he made those of us who were his friends smile. He is survived by his parents, sister Sophie, and his brothers Billy and Freddy. – Carl Arindell, The Guardian,  2004.

Today International Solidarity Movement pays tribute to Tom Hurndall for his bravery and sacrifices. He is never far from our thoughts, and he continues to inspire our Palestinian, Israeli, and International volunteers throughout our campaigns in the Occupied Territories. Tom would want us to remember him. But we also know he’d want us to remember that thousands of innocent Palestinians have died under similar circumstances. These people’s deaths have not been investigated, and have often been lied about, claiming the victims to be combatants or explained away with empty phrases like “caught in the crossfire” or “tragic accident.”

While the ISM acknowledges that the Israeli military court found Wahid Taysir guilty of manslaughter, an injustice was committed by his early release from prison in September 2010 due to “good behavior.”

The international community will continue to question the policy and decision makers responsible for Tom’s murder and the murder of thousands of other innocent people.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Turkey denies Israeli report that Mavi Marmara lawsuits dropped

By Ali Abunimah – The Electronic Intifada – 01/13/2012

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) today denied a report in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, carried also on its English website Ynet, that Turkey was to drop its legal actions and lawsuits against Israelis it holds responsible for the attack on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010 which killed 9 people and injured dozens.

Turkey’s Anatolia News Agency carried this report, which has been translated for The Electronic Intifada:

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the news report on Mavi Marmara published in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronot newspaper

ANKARA – MFA Spokesperson Selçuk Ünal denied claims that Turkey suspended cases that were opened against Israelis connected to the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla.

In his statement to the Anatolian Agency, Spokesperson Ünal said “the claims in this report do not reflect the reality.”

A news report published in The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot had claimed, based on sources in the US State Department , that Turkey suspended all cases opened against those Israelis involved in the raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla going to Gaza in 2010.

Israeli report allegedly based on “US sources”

Earlier, a Ynet report headlined “Turkey dropping Marmara lawsuits” claimed:

Sources in the US State Department said that the Turkish attorney general has ordered that all legal proceedings against Israeli elements involved in the IDF raid on the Marmara ship in May 2010 to be halted, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.

According to the sources, Turkish prosecutors were instructed to withdraw all proceedings against the elements that gave the order to take over the ship or who actively raided the vessel, an event which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens.

Turkish sanctions on Israel

Turkey’s decision to pursue legal action against Israel for the attack on the Mavi Marmara was announced as part of a package of sanctions last September which included downgrading diplomatic relations and severing military ties over Israel’s refusal to apologize for the attack and lift the siege of Gaza.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | Comments Off on Turkey denies Israeli report that Mavi Marmara lawsuits dropped

Death threats and attempts to intimidate the French BDS Campaign

BDS French Campaign | January 12, 2012

On Tuesday 10 January 2012 one of the organizers of the BDS French Campaign, while going through the post addressed to the Campaign, opened an envelope containing a white powder together with death threats.

Being alarmed by this incident, she proceeded to a hospital. The head doctor ordered that she be put in quarantine, and alerted the specialist police brigades who, several hours later, finally revealed that the powder was innocuous.

These threats are the latest in a series of unpunished acts by pro-Israel militias involving the display of racist graffiti and posters at the CICP, the headquarters of several associations in the Palestine solidarity movement.

In recent rulings, the French courts have refused to condemn BDS campaign activists who had been falsely and outrageously charged with incitement to racial hatred. The courts thus resisted the pressure applied by the Israeli embassy, the French government and Zionist groups, dashing their hopes of suppressing the boycott of Israeli apartheid by legal means. It now appears that the unconditional supporters of Israeli colonialism have decided to carry out increasingly violent actions.

Complaints will be filed following this criminal act. Our total and unwavering determination to strengthen and enlarge the BDS campaign remains unchanged. With this aim, more than 100 representatives and activists of organisations from all over France will meet this weekend to define our strategies for the new year.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 5 Comments

Truth about Syria: Crazy Men in Grey Suits

The west is on the hunt for another war in the Middle East

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | January 12, 2012

Ankara – In his speech to university students this week, Bashar al Assad spoke of a conspiracy against Syria. Use another word if you like, but of course there is one. The foot soldiers in the campaign to bring down the Syrian government are the armed men calling themselves the Free Syrian Army and the random armed gangs. None of them could maintain their violent campaign without outside support. Short of open armed intervention from the outside, they cannot overthrow the Syrian government. All they can do is keep killing and causing chaos in the hope that it will eventually collapse. Their sponsors  are the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Muslim  Brotherhood, the Syrian National Council, assorted  ‘activists’ in exile, some closely linked to the British Foreign Office and the US State Department,  and every salafist across the region. Reform is not the issue. Their agendas vary but converge at one point:  their determination to destroy the Baathist government. For the US, Britain and France – ‘the west’ – the destruction of a government and a political party that has long got in their way is the issue. For Saudi Arabia, the issue is confronting Iran and containing Shiism across the region. For the Muslim Brotherhood, the issue is revenge for Hafez al Assad’s repression of their revolt in 1982, the destruction of a secular government and the installation of a sharia-based substitute which they expect to dominate. For both the Muslim Brotherhood and the salafists the issue is also the destruction of the Alawis as a socio-political force in Syria.

For the US and Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Hizbullah are three parts of the same problem. Saudi Arabia regards Iran as the ‘head of the snake’ and wanted it attacked in the last years of the Bush administration, but a direct attack, removing the veil from the covert war already being involved, would be enormously dangerous to the countries waging it. This is what hinders them from going ahead, not the catastrophe that such a war would be for the people of Iran and the region. (It is extraordinary that although Iran has lived under the threat of such an attack for years, the western media still has not dealt with the consequences of a military attack on live nuclear reactors.)  Iran would be seriously weakened by successful open (as opposed to the covert war presently being waged) armed intervention in Syria. Such an attack would have much the same immediate effect as a direct attack on Iran. In 2006 the two countries signed a defence agreement to confront ‘common threats’, and Iran would regard open intervention in Syria as the prelude to an attack on itself. The most likely form of armed intervention would be the declaration of a no-fly zone or a ‘humanitarian corridor’ just over the Turkish-Syrian border. The template for this kind of war was Libya, where up to 50, 000 people were killed after France, Britain, the US and their lesser allies decided to attack in the name of maintaining a no-fly zone. Russia and China have indicated that they would block any moves at the UN Security Council to set up such arrangements.  In the light of these difficulties, destabilising Syria with the aim of achieving the same objectives as an open attack is a second best option. Bringing down the Syrian government, rupturing its strategic relationship with Iran and Hizbullah, is an end in itself for the US and its western and gulf allies. Insofar as Iran is concerned, removing Syria from the calculus of war by throwing it into such turmoil that it could not respond would significantly strengthen the US-Israeli position and perhaps make war more likely.

Since the beginning of the year the geopolitical map of the region has been significantly redrawn.   Islamist parties have come or are coming into government in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, and are likely to do well when elections are held in Libya. What parties say when in opposition and what they feel obliged to do in office are usually two different things and the Islamist parties are no different. On the critical question of relations with Israel, Rashid Ghannushi, the leader of Tunisia’s Al Nahda party has held quiet talks with the Israelis in Washington and has indicated that Palestine will not be a priority for the new Tunisian government. Conflicting signals are coming from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. According to the US State Department, the brotherhood has given an assurance that it will uphold the 1979 treaty with Israel. Almost immediately this was denied, with senior brotherhood figures saying that the treaty could not be regarded as sacrosanct and repeating the possibility of a referendum being held so the people could decide. This will be the trickiest of  questions for the new government to handle but as the new Egyptian government will need  the billions of dollars of aid pledged  by the US,  Saudi Arabia, Qatar  and the IMF (last year an offer of $3 billion was not taken up  but will be discussed again this January),  pragmatism  is likely to  win out,  in the short term and perhaps for as long as Israel itself does not put the treaty at risk through another savage attack on Gaza or Lebanon.

In this rapidly changing environment Syria is a holdout state, standing firm against the US and Israel on the one hand and the rising Islamist/salafist trend on the other.  The peaceful opposition was swamped in violence a long time ago, with the army still battling ‘defectors’ and the armed gangs the media keeps telling us are an invention of the state. The western media has yet to interview the families of the thousands of soldiers and civilians who have been killed by ‘defectors’ and other armed bands to see what they think about what is happening in their country. Relying on the unverified accusations of ‘activists’ or suspect sources outside Syria, the media has played a critical role in the development of a false narrative. Last week the Guardian hit a new low point with the accusation by of a London-based ‘activist’ that the Syrian security forces are packing detainees into container ships and dumping them at sea. It had no evidence for this claim, but then this is how the Guardian has been ‘reporting’ this crisis throughout. When Damascus was bombed, both the Guardian and the BBC led with the claim that   these bombings were the work of the government – according to activists. They had no evidence for this accusation either, literally made while Syrians were still washing the blood off the streets and picking up the body parts of the civilians who had been killed. When the Arab League issued an interim statement on the work of its monitors in Syria, it called for an end to the violence by the state and by armed gangs. On its web page, the BBC reported only that it called on the Syrian government to end the violence.

The west is on the hunt for another war in the Middle East. This is the essence of the campaign against Syria. Iran is being provoked every other day. This week another nuclear scientist was assassinated. The clear intention is to goad Iran into retaliating, providing the pretext for the armed attack that many in Israel and the US want. There is no question that Syria needs to reform but anyone who thinks that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are campaigning against Syria for the cause of reform is living in a dream world.  Every wild accusation made by activists and dutifully reported by the media is grist to their mill. They don’t want the violence to end. They want it continue until the Syrian government is destroyed, and they have the resources to keep this going virtually endlessly. If they take the plunge and launch an open attack on Syria or Iran they are likely to trigger off a regional war and, in the view of some, a global war. In their grey suits and pastel ties, these people are as crazy as any fascist in a brown uniform.


Jeremy Salt teaches the history of the modern Middle East in the Department of Political science, Bilkent University, Ankara. He previously taught at Bogazici (Bosporus) University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press, 2008).

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Truth about Syria: Crazy Men in Grey Suits

Israel FM seeks to dissolve Arab parties

Press TV – January 11, 2012

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party has proposed a bill that would dissolve Arab parties in the Knesset (parliament) if passed into law.

On Tuesday, Yisrael Beiteinu member Moshe Matalon submitted the proposal under which Israelis who did not serve in the military will not be able to run for the Knesset.

If the bill is passed into law, it would mean that the Arab parties in the Knesset would be dissolved. The United Arab List, Balad and Ta’al are the three main Arab political parties in Israel’s Knesset.

Yisrael Beiteinu’s proposal comes as an opinion poll on December 29, 2011 showed that right-wing extremist Israeli parties are likely to win a significant number of seats in the Knesset in the next parliamentary elections, expected to be held between November 2012 and February 2013.

The last elections were held in 2009. The 120 members of the Knesset are elected to four-year terms.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Israel FM seeks to dissolve Arab parties

Makers of 2010 Palestine activist handbook release 15 eye-catching pamphlets

The Veritas Papers

By Abraham Greenhouse – The Electronic Intifada – 01/13/2012

In the summer of 2010, a small group of activists from across North America released The Veritas Handbook: A Guide to Understanding the Struggle for Palestinian Human Rights. The 347-page document combined a “crash course” on key political and humanitarian issues with an extensive survey of resources for emerging activists and advocacy veterans alike. The Electronic Intifada reviewed the Veritas Handbook shortly after its release.

The handbook was well-received in the activist community, and caused a stir in anti-Palestinian circles as well: “I just came across a site that has me very concerned,” wrote Berkeley-based blogger Rabbi Menachem Creditor in a post titled “Concerned About Veritas”.

“The Veritas Handbook… is VERY well done [emphasis in original]”, he writes. “This might be just another grassroots tool for delegitimizing Israel… But it’s also a very compelling presentation, well-designed, and viral. Are similar tools being made available which defend Zionism as a noble aspirational vision?”

Great Taste, Less Filling

According to a press release, some activists were intimidated by the extreme length of the handbook, prompting the authors to begin work on “something much shorter” and more accessible. Partially drawing on content found in the handbook, the authors created a set of 15 impressively-designed booklets that can be utilized both as outreach tools, and for internal education within activist groups.

Each booklet comprises a total of 4 pages, designed for dual-sided printing on a single 8.5 x 11” sheet. This is quite convenient for activists in North America, where 8.5 x 11” is a well-established standard. Activists elsewhere, using A4 and other sizes, may find it slightly less so. One other feature which would have been useful would be a designated area for local activist groups to provide their own contact information. These issues notwithstanding, the booklets do pack a serious visual punch.

As for the content, the Veritas Papers feature these descriptive titles:

  • Paper 1: Occupation from Scratch
  • Paper 2: Myth vs. Reality
  • Paper 3: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
  • Paper 4: Israel’s “Right to Exist”
  • Paper 5: The West Bank & Settlements
  • Paper 6: Apartheid
  • Paper 7: Breaking Gaza
  • Paper 8: International Law
  • Paper 9: Resistance
  • Paper 10: A Real Partner for Peace?
  • Paper 11A: Canada’s Role in Occupation
  • Paper 11B: America: Israel’s Biggest Ally
  • Paper 12: Boycotting Israel
  • Addendum 1: Companies to Boycott: Be a Responsible Buyer
  • Addendum 2: Famous People and Things who Support Palestine

In what may prove to be a very smart move, the authors opted to provide comprehensive citations for each booklet on their website, rather than attempting to squeeze them onto the actual documents. Usability clearly remains a priority, as the authors have also posted an online survey to elicit feedback on the effectiveness, content, and design of the booklets.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment