PROUD TO BE A CANUK

While Donald Trump continues his anti-Muslim incitement in the US, the first group of Syrian refugees lands in Canada, the first of 25,000 expected to arrive by February; PM Trudeau came to greet them: ‘They step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada.’

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Canada prime minister welcomes wave of Syrian refugees

The first military plane carrying Syrian refugees to be resettled in Canada has arrived in the country.

Welcoming the 163 refugees, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was “showing the world how to open our hearts”.

The newly elected Liberal government has pledged to take in 25,000 refugees by the end of February.

Canada’s stance on the issue differs sharply to that of the US, which has been reluctant to take in migrants.

Another plane is due in Montreal on Saturday.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said all 10 provinces in Canada are in favour of accepting the refugees.

“This is a great moment for Canada,” he said. “This shows the way we really are. It truly is a non-partisan, national project.”

Since early November, hundreds of Syrians have already arrived in Canada via commercial aircraft.

A total of about 300 Syrians will arrive this week.

The Toronto Star, the country’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, ran a cover story on Thursday welcoming the refugees.

The US administration has said it will take in 10,000 refugees over the next year. Some Republican governors have unsuccessfully tried to keep them from coming to their states after deadly terrorist attacks in France and California.

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said after the California attacks that all Muslims should be blocked from coming to the US, drawing condemnation across the globe.

Global News reporter Mike Armstrong has been taking photos of refugees at Canada’s refugee processing centre in Amman, Jordan.

Some families have been told they may move in weeks, he tweeted.

About 800 refugees are going through screening tests in Lebanon and Jordan daily, Mr McCallum said.

Mr Trudeau, who swept the 19 October Canadian elections, has a different stance on refugees from that of his predecessor, the conservative Stephen Harper, who did not wish to resettle more people.

Unaccompanied men will be excluded from the resettlement programme but officials said this had nothing to do with national security concerns.

“We want them to have a roof over their head, and the right support,” said Mr McCallum.

“It takes a bit of time to put that all in place. We’re happy to take a little more time than originally planned to bring our new friends into the country.”

Those who will be considered refugees include families, women deemed to be at risk, and gay men and women.

 

Source

TOON OF THE HOUR ~~ GUESS WHO’S CELEBRATING THE DOWNING OF THE RUSSIAN PLANE

Image by Carlos Latuff

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A Russian Su-24 fighter has been shot down in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding the plane hadn’t violated Turkish airspace and was flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters.

SPOOF OF THE DAY ~~ THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

 

THANKSGIVING IN SYRIA ~~ SPOOF OF THE DAY

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

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From WRH

From WRH

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The Double Standard by Latuff

The Double Standard by Latuff

 

#JeSuisSyrian ~~ IT’S NOT JUST THE EU, NOBODY GIVES A DAMN!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

I was not aware of the following but was truly revolted when I read this;

Syrians flee while Saudi tents sit empty

Saudi Arabia has 100,000 empty, air-conditioned tents sitting unused while thousands of Syrian refugees continue to bake in overcrowded camps, but refuses to make them available. The news site TeleSur reports that the 20-square-km tent city of Mina is used just a few days a year to provide beds for Hajj pilgrims and sits empty the rest of the year. It says the tents are laid out neatly, measure eight metres square, are fireproof, include a kitchen and bathroom, and could house three million people. According to the Brookings Institute, the wealthy Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE have not taken a single refugee, while European countries struggle to deal with a flood in the hundreds of thousands.

AFP/GettyTent city in Saudi Arabia: air conditioned tents could hold three million refugees.

AFP/Getty  Tent city in Saudi Arabia: air conditioned tents could hold three million refugees.

Source of above

Israel has a history of contempt for refugees as can be seen in THIS report by Sam Bahour

The Sabra and Shatila massacre is personal

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Israeli contempt continues towards the plight of the Syrian refugees;

Israeli leaders delight in Europe’s cruelty toward refugees

As most of the world looks on in horror at Europe’s atrocious response to refugees escaping war and persecution in the Middle East and Africa, some Israeli officials are quietly reveling in the chaos.

Dore Gold, director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, expressed optimism that the refugee influx will shift Europe to the right, making it more sympathetic to Israel’s “security” justification for its ongoing colonization of Palestine.

“Israel always faced the problem in the past that its national security perspective was completely out of sync with how Europeans were viewing the emergence of the European community and the borderless world that was emerging,” the American-born hardliner toldThe Jerusalem Post.

“In the European models that existed 25 or 30 years ago, it is kind of difficult to hear an Israeli argument. But now things may be beginning to change a little,” posited Gold.

“The European perspective is beginning to sound a little bit more like Israel’s perspective on security issues, compared to what it was in the past.”

Echoes of the Holocaust

Images of refugees being corralled in trains, tracked with numbers on their forearms, locked away and fed like zoo animals in overcrowded camps and blocked with razor wire fences from entering Hungary have recalled memories of Europe’s darkest chapter.

All the while, refugees continue to die en masse on perilous journeys to Europe, sometimes drowning on rickety boats by sea and other times suffocating in trucks on the side of highways.

Frequently overlooked is the fact that these deaths are a direct consequence of European border policiesdesigned to make migration as unsafe as possible.

The only thing less acknowledged is the root catalyst.

Rapacious policies advanced by wealthy nations in the increasingly gated Global North have destabilized and fueled the very unrest that has produced the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

It’s no coincidence that many of the refugees at Europe’s doorstep are fleeing unrest in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan — all countries the US and its allies have directly and indirectly pillaged and destabilized.

Keeping Europe Christian

While there is plenty of blame to go around for the current crisis, Hungary’s actions — coupled with the jingoistic rhetoric of its right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban — have provoked the most widespread revulsion.

Muslim refugees must be kept out of Europe “to keep Europe Christian,” said Orban in an opinion piece urging Germans not to welcome Muslim refugees.

“We shouldn’t forget that the people who are coming here grew up in a different religion and represent a completely different culture,” he insisted. “Most are not Christian, but Muslim. … That is an important question, because Europe and European culture have Christian roots.”

A statement from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, attributed Hungary’s “callous” and “illegal” treatment of refugees to “the xenophobic and anti-Muslim views that appear to lie at the heart of current Hungarian government policy.”

As it turns out, Orban’s ruling party, Fidesz, is smitten with Israel, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. During a visit to Israel in 2005, Orban reportedly declared, “Likud is our natural ideological partner.”

He has since adopted several Israeli practices.

Inspired by Birthright, a program that sends young American Jews on free trips to Israel in hopes they will immigrate, Orban launched a Hungarian Birthright program for North Americans of Hungarian descent.

Orban also tapped Netanyahu’s former political advisor, Arthur Finkelstein, to help him consolidate power.

Finkelstein is a mud-slinging Republican strategist from the United States who has advised countless rightwing candidates both domestically and abroad. They include the failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney and more recently Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Israel’s proto-fascist party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home).

In recent years Fidesz has deepened ties with the far right and openly anti-Semitic Jobbik party.

Hungary is joined by Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic in refusing to take non-Christian refugees.

Leaders in Poland are said to be appealing to widespread anti-Muslim sentiment among the populace as election season approaches.

More than half of those polled earlier this month agreed that allowing Arabs and Turks into Poland would be “detrimental” to the country. Some people have even suggested reopening Auschwitz and sending the refugees there, prompting an investigation by Poland’s prosecutor general.

In Warsaw last weekend, thousands of right-wing protesters took to the streets, chanting, “Today refugees, tomorrow terrorists!“ and “Poland, free of Islam!”

To make their point, the rightwing demonstrators used a cartoon originally crafted by pro-Israel propagandists to portray Israeli soldiers as morally superior to Palestinians, who are shown using civilians as human shields. In reality it is Israel that uses Palestinians, including children, as human shields.

(Click HERE to see Twitter links)

Back in Israel, fans of the Maccabi Tel Aviv football team unfurled a giant banner that read, “Refugees not welcome!

Keeping Israel Jewish

As Hungary was making headlines for its racist pledge to build an anti-refugee fence, Netanyahu announced the construction of a wall along the Jordanian border to block a potential influx of Syrian refugees. Once the barrier is completed by the end of 2015, Israel will be entirely walled off.

Israeli officials claim they are helping Syrians by providing them with medical treatment instead of asylum. But this has only involved around 1,500 people, most of them fighters linked to al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria. In any case, patching up the wounded, fighters or not, and then sending them back into a war zone, as Israel has done, does not qualify as asylum.

Of the five states that border Syria, Israel is the only one that has not taken in any Syrian refugees for reasons identical to Hungary’s.

“Israel is a very small country. It has no demographic depth and has no geographic breadth,” Netanyahu has told his cabinet. “We must protect our borders against illegal immigrants and against the perpetrators of terrorism. We cannot allow Israel to be flooded with infiltrators.”

“Demographic depth” refers to Israel’s ideological imperative to maintain its Jewish majority, which was engineered by the premeditated mass expulsion of more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1948. In turn, Israel barred Palestinian refugees from returning and labeled those who tried to come back as “infiltrators.”

That is why millions of Palestinians continue to languish in squalid refugee camps scattered across the Middle East nearly 70 years later, making it the longest running refugee crisis in modern history.

As “proud Zionist” Noah Arbit argued in The Jerusalem Post that “absorbing any amount of Syrian refugees will only increase this demographic threat.”

Israel’s refusal to grant asylum to non-Jewish refugees from African states is rooted in the same exclusivist logic.

Openly referred to as “infiltrators” by Israeli government officials, African refugees have, like Palestinians, been labeled a threat because they are not Jewish.

Israel not only denies them asylum, it imprisons and deports them back to the horrors they escaped, where some have since been tortured and even killed.

In 2013, Israel completed construction of a wall along its border with Egypt to block African refugees from entering the country. Hungary and Bulgaria have reportedly expressed interest in buying Israeli equipment for their own borders.

Slamming Netanyahu’s embarrassingly open indifference, Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition Zionist Union, wrote on his Facebook page, “You’ve forgotten what it means to be Jews. Refugees. Persecuted. The prime minister of the Jewish people does not close his heart and the gate when people are fleeing for their lives from persecution, with their babies in their hands.”

It is difficult to take Herzog seriously given his party’s indifference towards Israel’s cruel treatment of African refugees, not to mention its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return, a policy Herzog’s Labor Party (part of the Zionist Union) instituted.

Zeev Elkin, Israel’s immigration minister, slammed Herzog’s appeal as an “attempt to bring the [Palestinian] ‘right of return’ through the back door. That is not responsible, and it is forbidden that it should happen.”

In the case of Palestinian refugees, the Israeli response is arguably more absurd. Israel is not denying Palestinian refugees asylum but rather their right to return to land from which they were violently expelled.

It’s hard to imagine anyone arguing against the right of Syrians to return to Syria should they choose to do so when the country is no longer engulfed in war. Yet the idea that Palestinians should have the right to return to their homeland is considered by many to be preposterous, even anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, under Israel’s discriminatory Law of Return, the purpose of which is to boost the Jewish majority, a Jew from anywhere in the world with no connection to the land can immigrate to Israel.

In June, Elkin beseeched French Jews to “come home,” insisting “Anti-Semitism is growing, terrorism is running rampant, and according to reports, ISIS is committing murder in broad daylight.”

“We are prepared to open our arms to the Jews of France,” he said, adding, “This is a national mission of the highest priority.”

A month later, Elkin greeted 221 new Jewish immigrants who left comfortable lives in the United States and Canada to settle in historic Palestine. A total of 4,000 North American Jews are expected in Israel by the end of 2015.

The similarities between European far right and Israeli government policies were best distilled by Arnon Soffer, an Israeli demographer nicknamed the Arab counter due to his compulsive fixation on the “demographic threat” posed by Palestinian babies.

Bizarre paradox

Rejecting calls to accept Syrian refugees, Soffer explained, “We are a very small country … please leave me some space for additional Jews to come.”

He went on to relate Israel’s anti-refugee imperative with Europe’s.

“Europe potentially can open its doors and accept more and more refugees, but if Europe says no, I can understand because they are afraid [of] the Muslims,” said Soffer. “This is a clash of civilizations and it will not happen in Africa or Asia. It will happen in France, Hungary and will eventually reach England and Germany.”

Orban and Netanyahu share a clear affinity for jingoistic saber rattling against Muslims, but the same cannot be said for the response their behavior elicits.

While Orban has been likened to a Nazi, Israeli leaders have been granted special immunity from abiding by the most basic standards of equality, not in spite of the Holocaust but rather because of it. The US State Department has gone so far as to classify as a form of anti-Semitism “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

This has created a bizarre paradox where the Holocaust is invoked to demand inclusiveness and sympathy for refugees in Europe, while being simultaneously deployed to excuse racist Israeli practices. Indeed, Israel’s existence as an exclusionary settler state is deceptively justified as a necessary response to the world’s indifference to the Nazi genocide of European Jews.

Consequently, language that is being condemned when spoken by European leaders is routinely excused when uttered in reference to Israel and Palestine. When the subject matter is Palestinian refugees, liberal rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic becomes indistinguishable from sentiments typically relegated to the far right.

Warning about the threat posed by “higher Palestinian population growth and fertility rates,” as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank did in February, is perfectly acceptable mainstream discourse.

The same goes for describing Palestinian refugees as a “demographic death warrant,” as New York TimesJerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren did this past summer.

Hungary’s Orban would certainly approve.

A scene from Budapest earlier this month; Hungary has responded in a brutal manner to refugees fleeing war. (Michael Gubi/Flickr)

A scene from Budapest earlier this month; Hungary has responded in a brutal manner to refugees fleeing war. (Michael Gubi/Flickr)

My post from last week is a must read …. click on link

REFUGEE CRISIS ISRAELI STYLE ~~ “NONE IS TOO MANY”

TIMELY TOON ~~ WHAT IF I WERE A CHRISTIAN?

What if the Syrian refugees were Christian …. would the gates open for them?

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE TO ISIS’ MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed since Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took over about 90 percent of the camp in last week.

Further proof that ISIS and Mossad are one!

get-attachment-15-587x459

Israeli Arab MK: World ignoring ISIS massacre of Palestinians

‘There is a moral double standard,’ says Joint List’s Ahmed Tibi of attacks on Yarmouk refugee camp. ‘If other people were the victims, not Palestinians it would be different.’

From JTA VIA

Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi called the takeover by the Islamic State of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp “a crime against humanity” on Monday.

Tibi, a member of the Arab Joint List party, said the international community, and Arab countries specifically, bear responsibility for allowing the violence in Yarmouk to occur.

“I feel anger and great sadness about what is happening in what is left of the camp,” he said. “There is a moral double standard. If other people were the victims, not Palestinians it would be different.”

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed since Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took over about 90 percent of the camp in last week.

Prior to the takeover, the camp was under siege by the Syrian government.

Hundreds of Palestinians have fled the camp since the start of the takeover, and tens of thousands during the four years of civil war in Syria.

Tibi said Yarmouk is “another case where the refugees who suffered in the Nakba of 1948 are now suffering again.” Nakba, which means “catastrophy” in Arabic, refers to Palestinians’ description of their collective losses, and especially displacement, during Israel’s War of Independance.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday called on the sides to not drag Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp into the conflicts in Syria.

“We urge those wanting to drag us in the conflicts to keep us away as we have been suffering and anguishing from many wars everywhere,” Abbas said during the dedication of a public garden. “We announced more than four years ago that we have not interfered in the internal affairs of any Arab country and therefore we reject any interference in our affairs. We have no relations with what is going on in Syria.”

WORSE THAN ISIS???

'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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WASHINGTON – While the Islamic State group is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria – a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe – poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target US aviation, American officials said.

 

Full AP Report HERE

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Compliments of Michael Rivero @ WRH

Compliments of Michael Rivero @ WRH

YARMOUK REVISITED ~~ SHARON’S LEGACY DID NOT END WITH HIS COMA OR HIS DEATH

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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This is the first anniversary of the Yarmouk massacre …. the original report is below.
Ariel Sharon’s legacy did not end with his coma or his death …
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At least 21 killed in shelling on Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria: NGO

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. (Reuters)

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. (Reuters)
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At least 21 civilians have been killed on Friday in shelling by the Syrian regime forces on the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

“The number of people killed by the mortar attack on the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp has risen to 21, two of those killed were children. four bodies remain unidentified,” the watchdog reported.

 

The watchdog said the mortar shells slammed into the camp, on the southern outskirts of Damascus, on Thursday night, as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime pressed its bid to crush an uprising that erupted almost 17 months ago.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the shelling occurred as clashes flared between government troops and opposition fighters in the nearby Damascus neighborhood of Tadamun.

 

“We demand an international investigation. We do not know the origin of the shelling,” Abdel Rahman told AFP in Beirut on the telephone.

The Observatory also reported heavy shelling overnight around Houla, a town in the central province of Homs where at least 108 people were massacred at the end of May, triggering international outrage.

In the town of Hama, more than 60 people have been killed in what activists described as a new massacre, the Syrian Coordination Committees.

Abu al-Qassim, of the Union of Hama revolutionaries, said the victims included dozens of children, women and members of the opposition Free Army.

“From Yesterday today, more than 60 people have been killed in a real massacre. The city is a ghost town,” he told Al Arabiya by phone.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. There is no way to independently verify this figure, while the UN has stopped keeping count.

The Observatory also reported that the Salaheddin neighborhood of Aleppo was bombarded on Friday morning, with clashes continuing in the Zebdiya neighborhood.

FABRICATING ‘FACTS’ ABOUT SYRIA

The report admits that HRW did not have physical access to the site and had based its study on Skype interviews with ‘More than 10 witnesses and survivors’ made over a period of two weeks between 22 August and 6 September. These were supplemented by video and photo footage and other data from an unnamed source or sources.
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Is Human Rights Watch Manipulating Facts about Syria?

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A still taken from the video analyzed by Eliot Higgins. Higgins deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. (Photo: Supplied)
A still taken from the video analyzed by Eliot Higgins. Higgins deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. (Photo: Supplied)
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By Richard Lightbown

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On 21 August 2013 a series of chemical attacks were perpetrated in the Ghouta suburbs of eastern Damascus. Sources say that between 281 and 1,729 civilians were killed, while Medcins Sans Frontiers reported around 3,600 were injured in the attacks. On the same day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instructed the UN Mission already in Syria to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Khan al-Asal, Sheik Maqsoos and Saraqueb to focus their efforts on the Ghouta allegations.

Before the UN Mission had reported its preliminary findings Human Rights Watch (HRW) jumped the gun on 10 September with its own report written by Peter Bouckaert, the organization’s Emergencies Director. The report admits that HRW did not have physical access to the site and had based its study on Skype interviews with ‘More than 10 witnesses and survivors’ made over a period of two weeks between 22 August and 6 September. These were supplemented by video and photo footage and other data from an unnamed source or sources. It is unclear then, exactly how many exposed survivors were interviewed by HRW or who the other witnesses were.

In compiling the report HRW had also drawn on the technical services of Keith B. Ward Ph.D., an expert on the detection and effects of chemical warfare agents. However the organisation did not disclose that Dr Ward is employed by Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States government. The HRW investigation was also ‘assisted by arms experts including Nic Jenzen-Jones […] as well as Eliot Higgins […] who collected and analysed photos and videos from the attacks.’

Mr Jenzen-Jones’s LinkedIn profile does not list any training or experience with armaments, and his only qualifications appear to be ‘certified armourer and ammunition collector’ – which probably relates to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition control) Act 2012 of the state of New South Wales, Australia. In reports on the story on his own blog ‘The Rogue Adventurer’, Mr Jenzen-Jones relies on data taken uncritically from sources such as the New York Times and even a Los Angeles Times article based on Israeli intelligence Apparently he is not familiar with Israeli falsified reports such as the alleged use of guns by passengers on the Mavi Marmara against Israeli commandos (which remain uncorroborated despite Israeli forces seizing virtually all photographic data from the more than 600 passengers, along with film from security cameras located throughout the ship and Israel’s own constant infra-red surveillance from boats on both sides of the ship and at from least two aircraft). As former CIA director Stansfield Turner is alleged to have said, Mossad excels in PR, and not in intelligence.

HRW’s other expert, Eliot Higgins is an untrained analyst who was recently talked-up into some kind of expert by Matthew Weaver in the Guardian. On his Brown Moses Blog of 28 August 2013 Mr Higgins featured a video sent to him by a source allegedly showing the type of munition linked to the chemical attacks being fired close to Al-Mezzah Airport near Daraya. The video has been filmed at some distance and none of the upwards of 20 men roaming around the site can be clearly seen. An unmarked Mercedes semi-trailer lorry apparently delivers the rocket which is loaded (this is not seen) onto an unmarked white rigid lorry on which the launcher is mounted. The men aimlessly roaming around are mostly wearing army fatigues, although others, including some on the launcher, are in civilian clothes. A number of those in military uniform are wearing red berets. Based solely on this headgear, and the fact that the Syrian Republic Guard as well as the military police are issued with red berets, Mr Higgins is emboldened to state that ‘…this video shows the munition being used by the government forces […].

Stills taken from the video analysed by Eliot Higgins. Mr Higgins has deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. The rocket shown can also carry conventional explosives.

In a previous posting on 26 August, Mr Higgins estimated from shadows that a rocket shown in photographs between Zamalka and Ein Tarma had been fired from north of the site, and he set about trying to locate the launch site with the help of correspondents. Hoping to find the exact location, he speculated that the 155th Brigade missile base was a possible site for the crime. This line of investigation quietly disappeared after the UN Mission reported that the missile they had examined at Zamalka/Ein Tarma was pointing precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees, i.e. nearer west than north.

Meanwhile Mr Bouckaert in his report two weeks later reported that two of his witnesses told HRW that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport. These accounts also became inconvenient later when, as we shall see, HRW seized on the azimuths provided by the UN Mission and dashed off on a new wild goose chase. Apparently HRW now considered that nearly 20 per cent of the ‘witnesses and survivors’ it had interviewed were no longer credible regarding the direction of the rockets.

Nevertheless on page 1 of his report Mr Bouckaert felt confident enough to declare,

“Based on the available evidence, Human Rights Watch finds that Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for the August 21 attacks, and that a weapons-grade nerve agent was delivered during the attack using specially designed rocket delivery systems.”

The ‘evidence’ produced on p20 of the report amounts to nothing more than supposition. Mr Bouckaert merely states his skepticism that the rebels could have fired surface-to-surface rockets at two different locations in the Damascus suburbs; he asserts that the types of rockets thought to have been used are not reported to be in possession of the opposition nor is there any footage showing that they have mobile launchers suitable; and he states that the large amounts of dangerous nerve agent would require sophisticated techniques beyond the capabilities of the rebels. No actual evidence is cited to show that this weaponry is Syrian Army equipment. On the contrary the Soviet 140 mm rocket referred to on p15 requires a BM-14 rocket launcher, first produced in the late 1940s. The Syrian Army equipment list produced by Global Security shows none of this obsolete weaponry in stock but instead lists around 300 of the BM-21 launcher which replaced it. The BM-21 launches a 122mm rocket, so the Army would be unable to fire the 140mm rocket that rebels found and the UN Mission inspected at Moadamiyah. Mr Bouckaert might also recall that Israel has a common border to Syria and is known to have stocks of sarin amongst the vast collection of illegal chemical and biological weaponry amassed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) at Nes Ziona. YouTube videos also show Syrian rebels in possession of mobile rocket launchers. HRW really did assemble a Mickey Mouse team of researchers when they cobbled together this report.

Nevertheless HRW’s reputation and distribution ensured that their allegation was distributed by agencies such as Associated Press and reported by outlets which included the BBC, CBS, New York Post and other international media such as the Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner and the Jakarta Post None of these outlets questioned the veracity of this very serious allegation against the Syrian Army.

On 11 September, a day after the HRW report was published, the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria published its unique and important analysis of documentation nominated by US intelligence. Having carefully and thoughtfully analyzed the data, including a number of images also published in the Bouckaert report, the study discovered not only widespread manipulation of evidence, but in the tradition of BBC reporting in Syria, they also discovered that photographs of victims in Cairo had been described as victims of a chemical attack in Syria. This preliminary study concludes that there has been gross media manipulation and calls for an independent and unbiased International Commission to identify the children who were killed and try to find the truth of the case. This writer has not seen any HRW document which refers to the ISTEAMS study.

The UN Mission report was published six days after the Bouckaert report on 16 September. This disclosed that the Mission had been allowed a total of only seven-and-a-half hours on-site in the two suburbs which are both located in opposition-controlled areas. During that period they had experienced repeated threats of harm and one actual attack by an unidentified sniper on 26 August. Nevertheless they had collected samples and ‘a considerable amount of information’ along with ‘primary statements from more than fifty exposed survivors including patients, health workers and first-responders.’ In fact the statements had been taken in interviews with nine nurses, seven doctors and 36 survivors. The Mission concluded that there was ‘definitive evidence of exposure to Sarin by a large proportion of the survivors assessed’ and it stated that it had been informed that victims began suffering effects following an artillery barrage on 21 August 2013. All interviews, sampling and documentation followed procedures developed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization.

The report states that ‘several surface to surface rockets capable of delivering significant chemical payloads were identified and recorded at the investigated sites’ but only five impact sites in total were investigated by the Mission (presumably because of the time constraints imposed on them by those who controlled the areas).

The UN report is not without its contradictions. In a summary in their Letter of Transmittal the authors wrote ‘In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples, we have collected, provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka…’. And yet none of the 13 environmental samples taken from Moadamiyah were found to have any traces of sarin, although one of the two laboratories conducting the analyses found degradation products of sarin in four of the thirteen samples while a further sample was found to contain degradation products by the other lab. Although two of the samples were unspecified metal fragments, none of the samples was specifically described as being part of a rocket. Does the discovery of degradation products in 38 per cent of the samples (and only 23 per cent of the tests) along with a complete absence of the chemical agent itself constitute ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that Moadamiyah was attacked by surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin?

Most important however are the two caveats included in the report. On p 18 the inspectors wrote concerning the Moadamiyah site,

“The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”

Similar tampering of the evidence was noted at the other site as the report notes on p22,

“During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

HRW was quick to seize on the UN report to substantiate its own allegations, although some adjustments were now necessary to get their allegations to dovetail neatly into the report’s findings. On 17 September Josh Lyons used the azimuths cited for the rockets in Appendix 5 of the Mission report  to produce a cross reference which suggested that the military base of the Republican Guard 104th Brigade had been the launch site for the chemical weapons. (Mr Lyons called this ‘Connecting the dots’. By coincidence, when referring to the Sellström Report on 19 September, John Kerry  said ‘But anybody who reads the facts and puts the dots together, which is easy to do, and they made it easy to do, understands what those facts mean.’? ‘Facts’ can mean anything if distorted enough, Mr Kerry.)

Once again no supporting evidence was provided to explain why HRW blames the Syrian Army, and all previous locations suggested for the launch were conveniently forgotten. To recap, Peter Bouckaert reported two witness statements that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport (more than 6 kilometres from the Republican Guard base) and HRW’s ‘expert’ Eliot Higgins was convinced that they were fired from north of the target sites.

Referring to unspecified ‘declassified reference guides’ Mr Lyons tells us that the 140mm artillery rocket could have reached Moadamiya, 9.5Km from the Republican Guard’s base. Yet even if a seventy-year old rocket system could indeed fly that far, Mr Lyons is forgetting that the Syrian Army no longer has these outdated systems. It therefore no longer has 140mm rockets, one of which is alleged to have been responsible for part of this crime against humanity. He is also forgetting that no actual chemical agent was found at Moadamiya, so it is premature to start producing cross references from that site. And above all he is deliberately omitting to tell his readers about the caveats written for both target sites by the UN inspectors that clearly and unequivocally suggest that the evidence has been tampered with at both sites which are located in opposition-controlled areas.

None of these inconvenient truths have stopped the HRW juggernaut. On 20 September the Guardian published an article by HRW staffer Sarah Margon promoting both the Bouckaert report and the Lyons’ calculations (apparently unaware of the contradiction between the two). She ended up by calling for an Obama/Kerry commitment to ensure there is ‘accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people’. But of course she was not writing about Fellujah or Gaza or the IIBR at Nes Ziona.

(The author is grateful for assistance from Josh Lyons of HRW Emergencies Division in the preparation of this article.)

– Richard Lightbown contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

TOONS OF THE DAY ~~ UNCLE SAM AND JORDAN’S COMMITMENT TO PEACE IN SYRIA

Both images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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JOKER OF THE DAY ~~ WHY SO SYRIAS?

obama%20joker

LATUFF LOOKS AT OBAMA’S ROCK, PAPER, SCISSOR GAME

Image ‘Copyleft’ By Carlos Latuff

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HELP OBAMA KICK-START WW lll

President Obama needs your help starting World War III! Find out how you can help!

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LATUFF’S TAKE ON OBAMA’S 9/11 IN SYRIA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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AIPAC’S NEW YEAR’S GIFT TO THE WORLD ~~ WAR IN SYRIA

As the Jewish world celebrates its New Year with hopes and prayers for peace, AIPAC continues to push for war in Syria …..
SAY NO TO AIPAC!
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AIPAC Details ‘Major’ Lobbying Push on Syria

Flood of Activists Will Hit Capitol Hill

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All-Out Push: Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) arrives for a briefing on Syria. AIPAC plans a major push to convince Congress to back President Obama’s request to authorize use of force.
GETTY IMAGES
All-Out Push: Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) arrives for a briefing on Syria. AIPAC plans a major push to convince Congress to back President Obama’s request to authorize use of force.

By Reuters

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The influential pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee will deploy hundreds of activists next week to win support in Congress for military action in Syria, amid an intense White House effort to convince wavering U.S. lawmakers to vote for limited strikes.

“We plan a major lobbying effort with about 250 activists in Washington to meet with their senators and representatives,” an AIPAC source said on Saturday.

Congressional aides said they expected the meetings and calls on Tuesday, as President Barack Obama and officials from his administration make their case for missile strikes over the apparent use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The vote on action in Syria is a significant political test for Obama and a major push by AIPAC, considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, could provide a boost.

The U.S. Senate is due to vote on a resolution to authorize the use of military force as early as Wednesday. Leaders of the House of Representatives have not yet said when they would vote, beyond saying consideration of an authorization is “possible” sometime this week.

Obama has asked Congress to approve strikes against Assad’s government in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 Syrians.

But many Republicans and several of Obama’s fellow Democrats have not been enthused about the prospect, partly because war-weary Americans strongly oppose getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict.

Pro-Israel groups had largely kept a low profile on Syria as the Obama administration sought to build its case for limited strikes after last month’s attack on rebel-held areas outside Damascus.

Supporters of the groups and government sources acknowledged they had made it known that they supported U.S. action, concerned about instability in neighboring Syria and what message inaction might send to Assad’s ally, Iran.

But they had generally wanted the debate to focus on U.S. national security rather than how a decision to attack Syria might help Israel, a reflection of their sensitivity to being seen as rooting for the United States to go to war.

Source

TODAY’S TOON ~ OBAMA’S RED LINE

Image by Bendib

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TIMELY TOON ~~ OBAMA’S CAVALRY STILL READY TO GO TO SYRIA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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A STUDY IN AMERICAN HYPOCRISY

To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable.
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Treaty Obligations, War Crimes and Accountability:
A Study in American Hypocrisy

 By Nima Shirazi
The U.S. Air Force firebombing Japan in 1945
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”
– Juvenal, Satires (VI, 347–8)

“I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview earlier this week.

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus andnew reports of a “napalm” bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama’s predecessors, considering theuse of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Napalm, which is classified as an incendiary, rather than chemical, weapon, is composed of a gel that sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. Used extensively by the U.S. military during the last years of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, the napalm bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 people. Twice the amount of napalm as was dropped on Japan in 1945 was used by American forces over three years during the Korean War: 32,357 tons as compared to 16,500 tons.

Between 1963 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1980, the United Nations declared the use of napalm gel in densely-populated civilian areas to be a war crime.

Agent Orange, a chemical weapon derived from herbicides, was also used by Americans during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand.

A 2008 Globe and Mail article reported that “Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born withdefects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war.”

According to the the United Nations, Agent Orange is “one of the most toxic compounds known to human,” and the Vietnamese Red Cross has estimated that “as many as one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or other health problems associated with Agent Orange.”

A recently published report in Foreign Policy revealed that, during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988, “America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.” Among the findings, the report stated that, in 1988, “U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent,” and that “Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence.”

More:

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

Even more recently, the U.S. military used white phosphorus, a chemical compound whose use in civilian areas constitutes a war crime, during its 2004 attacks on Fallujah in Iraq, just as America’s best friend in the region, Israel, dropped white phosphorus on civilian areas in its 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza.

It should be noted that, while the United States is a party to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans the use of napalm against civilians, it has never signed Protocol III on the convention, the statute that specifically bans the use of all incendiary weaponry. Nevertheless, even without signing it, this protocol came into force for the U.S. on July 21, 2009.

Furthermore, Israel is one of only seven nations on the planet – along with Syria, Angola, South Sudan, Egypt, North Vietnam, and Myanmar – to refuse to abideby the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

However, despite this, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said this week that state non-compliance with treaty obligations recognized by the vast majority of the international community – even by non-signatories to such treaties – should not absolve those states from accountability.

During a press briefing on August 27, spokesperson Marie Harf described the CWC as a “multilateral disarmament agreement” that “provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control and prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Currently, 189 nations, which represent about 98 percent of the global population, have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.” As such, she continued, even though there are a few nations that have not yet acceded to the convention, “clearly that should not enable them to escape responsibility for their actions.”

Harf added, “There is a reason that the overwhelming majority of the international community – again, that agrees on little else – has stood against the use of these weapons, and Syria should not be able to flout the clearly expressed view of the international community here.”

The following day, Harf reiterated this position:

[T]he indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we’re not going back, and they have to be held accountable.

To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable. In 1998, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted to adopted the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and granting it authority to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” The United States voted against it.

When the statute was officially adopted by the international community in 2002, the United States, Israel and Sudan all signed it, but formally refused to present it for ratification. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General on May 6, 2002, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, stated, “in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000.”  While the Obama administrationhas walked back this Bush era rejection, it has still refused to ratify the treaty and accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Of course, the language of international law and accountability is also never leveled at Israel when it commits war crimes or develops an undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Israel – along with only three other countries on Earth – is not a signatory.

In fact, in May 2010, after the 189 signatories of the NPT – including Iran and Syria called for an international conference in 2012 with the goal of establishing “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction,” Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

At the time, President Obama also decried the resolution for what he claimed was an unfair focus on Israel – the only nuclear-armed state in the region – and promised to “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”

When the time of the proposed conference rolled around in December 2012, the United States prevented it from taking place.

It is clear that the United States is not considering military strikes on Syria out of any deference to the obligations of international law or concern for innocent civilians. As Omar Dahi notes in Jadaliyya, “The fact that the United States is threatening to strike now has nothing to do with the welfare of Syrians, and everything to do with the United States maintaining its own ‘credibility,’ its position as a hegemonic power.”

Even taking the U.S. government at its word – a dubious thing to do in light of past experiences – presents problems of its own, namely that any purportedly punitive military action against Syria would itself be a violation of the very laws the United States is claiming to defend.

Recall, for instance, what then-Senator Barack said back on December 20, 2007:  “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”

International relations professor Charli Carpenter has just addressed these factors in Foreign Affairs:

The Obama administration has already confirmed that its primary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has “no doubt” that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As Article36.org, a nongovernmental organization notes, these might includecondemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.

It is thus worrying that the proposed military strikes against Syria rely on Tomahawk missiles, which are capable of carrying cluster munitions and which have been decried on humanitarian grounds by numerous governments and civil society groups. Equally alarming is that the planned strikes would likely involve the use of explosives in populated areas, which is in violation of emerging international concerns about such behavior. Although there is historical precedent for the legitimacy of violating the UN Charter in order to enforce global humanitarian norms, it would be seen as hypocritical to violate those very norms in the service of their affirmation.

As always, with a potentially imminent military strike on the horizon, the American government has once again affirmed its belief that – unlike the rest of the world – when the United States or its friends abrogate international law and commit war crimes, they should not be held to account.

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UPDATE:

MSNBC‘s resident loudmouth Chris Matthews – who fancies himself somewhat of an historian – is apparently wholly unaware of the U.S. military’s past use of chemical weapons. Speaking on Morning Joe earlier this week, Matthews bellowed:

If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it.

Let alone Matthews’ ignorance of our own actions, even more surreal is the statement that “Hitler didn’t use them.” Matthews seems to be forgetting about that whole Holocaust thing, when the Nazis committed genocide by gassing millions of Jews in death camps.

Since no allusion to either Syria or Nazi Germany is allowed to pass in themainstream media without making erroneous comparisons with Iran, Matthews added that, based on Assad’s alleged use of weapons of mass destruction, “It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple.”

Well, first off, Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons and, even according to U.S. intelligence assessments, hasn’t even made a decision to do so. It has alsoroutinely denounced the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons for the past three decades.

Moreover, that Matthews would think Iranian leaders would instigate atomic armageddon for absolutely no reason is bizarre. But then, again, with a history ofpromoting misinformation and demonstrating utter ignorance about the Iranian nuclear program, it is no surprise Matthews is pushing such shameless propaganda.

Second, Matthews fails to point out here that, in fact, only one single solitary nation in world history has ever actually used nuclear weapons: the United States of America, which dropped them on a civilians, slaughtering hundreds of thousands.

As Robert McNamara recounted to filmmaker Errol Morris in The Fog of War, “[U.S. Air Force General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

McNamara wondered, “Was there a rule then that said you shouldn’t bomb, shouldn’t kill, shouldn’t burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?”

(h/t to JTA’s Uriel Heilman for jumping on this.)

OBAMA AND THE GLOBAL INTIFADA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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The fact remains that the most destabilizing country in the Middle East is the one that receives unconditional billions of US taxpayer money. It is the state that caused millions of refugees and that introduced weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons to the Middle East.  It is the state that used white phosphorous and depleted uranium on civilian populations.  It is the state that started five wars and that lobbied successfully to ge the US to go to wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan that caused millions of lives lost and trillions of US taxpayer money spent. It is the state that fits all the criteria discussed in the International convention against the crimes of apartheid and racial discrimination.
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Obama and global intifada

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
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It is not difficult to understand the power-game being played in Syria and no decent human being should stand on the sideline in a conflict that will shape the future of our humanity.  The global intifada (uprising) is spreading and it is rejecting war and hegemony and now even President Obama is reeling under pressure.  It is an earthquake that is shaking the very foundation of post-WWII world order (what used to be referred to mistakenly as “the American century” when it was really the Zionist century).  The British, French and American public long exposed to Zionist propaganda have joined the revolution.  Politicians started to panic especially after the British parliament voted against war. This was the first major and stunning defeat to the US/Israel hegemony of British politics since WWII.

 
US President Obama was stuck after the British vote and the clear solid position of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Russia, China and even overwhelming public opposion in the US despite the attempt to whip frenzy by Israel media stooges like Wolf Blitzer of CNN.   Obama was also stunned by what his own intelligence services told him about potential repercussions of a military strike on Syria especially without UN mandate and without US public support.  These repercussions included presence of strong defensive and offensive capabilities in Syria. There was intelligence leaks about downed “test” incursion. But repercussions discussed include strengthening rather than weakening Iran (after all, this is what happened after Iraq!).  President Obama spent countless hours talking with his Zionist and non-Zionist advisers and key government officials (there are no anti-Zionists in his group). Faced with no good option in trying to maintain Israel/US hegemony, Obama decided not to decide and shift the debate to Congress to buy time. Now it is up to the American people who overwhelmingly reject war on Syria to stand up and pressure the Israeli-occupied US congress to do what is good for US citizens not what they perceive to be good for Zionism. 
 
The Russian president spoke of a number of key points that he called “common sense” while Obama just lied.  Russia and the US had agreed to the parameters of a political conference in which all sides were invited. Russia talked the Syrian government into attending this Geneva conference (even though most Syrians opposed a dialogue with Western backed thugs and Western backed mercenaries). Under Israeli pressure, the US administration started to rethink their agreement and their stooges announced they cannot join discussion with their opponents unless their opponents are defeated and surrender!  Syrian government forces then gained momentum against the Western and Israeli backed extremist rebels and cornered them in very few pockets.  Syria was opening up and international inspectors were coming.   Putin rightly points out that under such conditions: who has the benefit of using chemical weapons: the Syrian government or the rebels trying to provide excuses for Western defeat of a government they could not defeat themselves? It is common sense. Syria, Russia and China and all humanity ask logically: if the US has proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack its own people (including its own soldiers), then give us the proof. They rightly ask why the mandate of UN inspectors was  limited to only find out if they were used but not to explore who might have used them. After the lies Israeli and US intelligence concocted to go the war on Iraq, they now seem rather reluctant to manufacture evidence again. 
 
Obama lied about many other things and perhaps the only part of his speech that touched on reality is when he admitted that he is part of a system and that he cannot make a decision by himself.  The military-industrial complex is now too entrenched in US politics for any president to challenge it.  In fact, no one would be allowed to become president if they were to have even a slight chance of potential to challenge it.  So Obama says: I am with the machine that was in place before I came to power and will always be with the machine.  By this he showed that his campaign retorhic about “change” was just what American call “bull-shit”.  That is why Obama is stuck.  When President Obama paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr just a week ago, he was being hypocritical. King had famously said that the US is the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.  The US public can and must push Obama and Congress to change just like they pushed previous politicians to get civil rights, women’s right to vote, ending the war on Vietnam, ending US support for Apartheid South Africa and more.
 
The fact remains that the most destabilizing country in the Middle East is the one that receives unconditional billions of US taxpayer money. It is the state that caused millions of refugees and that introduced weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons to the Middle East.  It is the state that used white phosphorous and depleted uranium on civilian populations.  It is the state that started five wars and that lobbied successfully to ge the US to go to wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan that caused millions of lives lost and trillions of US taxpayer money spent. It is the state that fits all the criteria discussed in the International convention against the crimes of apartheid and racial discrimination.
 
The fact is that this latest Israel-inspired conflict is not about form of government in Syria. The US/Israel backed dictators in a dozen Arab countries are far, far worse than Bashar Assad of Syria. The fact remains that this is a clear attempt by the US through ist secretary of state under influence from the Zionist lobby and with the support of puppet rulers in the Arab world to liquidate the Palestinian cause.  The parameters of this are clear: liquidating Palestinian rights like the right of refugees to return to their homes and lands, limited Palestinian autonomy that Palestinian puppets can call a state in parts of the occupied West Bank in confederation with Jordan.  This will ensure the “Jewishness” of the apartheid state of Israel. Gaza would be relegated to Egyptian administration or continuing to manage it as one Israeli official said “by putting Gazan’s on a diet”.  To get this program through, resistance must be made to look futile.  Israel set-up a high-level ministerial committee to fight boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.  Israel told the US that the Hizballah-Syria-Iran axis must be destroyed. Potentially developing Arab countries will be broken up into sectarian and other conflicts (divide and conquer) beginning with Iraq.  They thought Syria is the next weak link that can be removed in the same way that Libya was disposed of. They underestimated the level of rejection to their demonic schemes of divide and conquer. 
 
What happened actually is the opposite. A strengthening block evolved starting in Iran, Iraq and Palestine and spreading globally.  The counter-revolutionary efforts are failing and in some cases getting the opposite effect of unifying and strengthening resistance.  The attempts by some to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon failed miserably.  The positions of China, Russia, Venezuela and other governments came to reflect the international consensus of resisting US/Israeli hegemony.  No human being and no government can claim neutrality.  Neutrality is rather meaningless when there is such an evel attempt to dominate the world for the benefit of just a few people at the expense of millions. The vast majority of people in all countries (Palestine, USA, Britain, France, Russia, China etc) stand on one side of this against the Zionist attempts to drag the world into yet one more destructive conflict.  Clearly a win here is a win for Palestine and a win for all people of the world.
 
Before we talk about democracy in Syria, we must respect the fact that the vast majority of people on earth insist that Western governments respect their own citizens’ will instead of trying to smother them or shape them with propaganda or bypass them to serve the Israel lobby.  Before we talk about democracy in Syria, we must end apartheid in Israel, and end the repressive regimes supported by the US especially those in the oil producing Arab countries.  Perhaps this is the reason gulf states are pouring billions to fund murderers in the so called “Syrian rebels” (most of them turn out to be mercenaries).  It is the same reason that Netanyahu and Obama are both very nervous.  When the US/Israel program of liquidating the Palestinian cause and destroying Syria fails (and it will), all bets are off.  People stand up to tyranny and stand up for human rights and that is why governments (US, Israeli, Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc) are starting to panic.  They do have good reason to worry because people power is coming and each of us must be part of it.  We ask you to join the global intifada which will liberate oppressors and oppressed alike and create a better world for all. 

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