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Dagelijks archief 1 september 2013

Recht in het Midden Oosten

In het Brabants Dagblad van afgelopen vrijdag was het weer eens prijs schieten; de column van een zekere Harry Verbon sprak over Recht in het Midden-Oosten. De heer Verbon gaat fel in de aanval richting de heer Van Agt met woorden als “precies te weten wat er moet gebeuren om het Midden-Oosten conflict op te lossen ” en “de onderdrukking van het Palestijns volk  staken.”

Nu weet ik niet waar meneer Verbon vandaan komt, maar wat ik wel proef uit zijn zgn. column is dat hij geen vrienden van de Palestijnen is. Laat het duidelijk zijn, dat hoeft ook niet, maar een beetje meer respect voor het trotse Palestijnse volk zou op zijn plaats zijn. Laten we blij zijn dat meneer Verbon zich verdiept heeft in het ‘internationaal recht’ want hij weet daarover een hele hoop te melden. Alleen ik hoor niet dat de internationale gemeenschap een oplossing heeft moeten vinden voor het schuldgevoel opgelopen door de Tweede Wereldoorlog aan de Joden en deze toen maar een homeland heeft gegeven op een plek waar al mensen woonden, nl. de Palestijnen. De opmerking dat de Palestijnen gewoon Arabieren zijn, die ook in Irak of in Syrië hadden kunnen wonen, spreekt niet van enige klasse of respect jegens andere volkeren. Voor het zelfde had ik kunnen zeggen, waarom hebben de Engelsen de Joden niet naar Rusland gestuurd na 1945, want daar woonden toch ook veel Joden.

Daarnaast stelt de heer Verbon ook dat de heer Van Agt c.s. heeft aangegeven dat Israël zich eens moet houden aan het internationaal recht, dat zou ook een oplossing zijn voor de problematiek in het Midden-Oosten. Laat het duidelijk zijn dat Israël zich geen ene moer van het internationaal recht of resoluties van de VN aantrekt. Ze gaat gewoon verder met de bezetting van een volk; mannen, vrouwen en kinderen in de gevangenis gooien zonder enige vorm van rechtspraak; Palestijnen vermoorden, land inpikken en complete  olijfboomgaarden ontwortelen.

Verder wordt in alle vormen en toonaarden deze bezettende macht door haar Amerikaanse waakhond uit de wind gehouden, door massa media populatie, door verkeerde gegevens naar buiten te brengen, stelselmatig ontkennen van onbeschofte schendingen van de mensenrechten (als van bombardementen en het gebruik van witte fosfor) en de hypocrisie over zgn.  niet bestaande nucleaire installaties.

Internationaal recht is een recht van de internationale gemeenschap en dat gewaarborgd moet worden door de Veiligheidsraad en de Verenigde Naties en waarbij het woord veto onmiddellijk geschrapt moet worden uit het veiligheidsjargon. De Verenigde Staten moeten zich niet voordoen als de politieagent van deze wereld, als ze alleen maar voor de eigen belangen en de eigen veiligheid op komt of de belangen van de staat Israël.

Over Syrië lees mijn column: http://khamakarpress.com/2013/09/01/to-be-or-not-to-be-in-syrie/

Jordan to diminish tasks of military court

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Jordan said Monday it will sharply diminish the duties of its powerful military court in line with promised state reforms to allow for wider freedom of expression.

Spearheading the reforms, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called for amending a law governing the tasks of the no-jury tribunal, officially known as the State Security Court.

Reformists criticize the court as a government tool to muzzle them.

Information Minister Mohammad Momani said the amended draft law, which will be debated in the elected parliament, was unanimously endorsed by Cabinet Monday.

He said out of 17 crimes previously under its jurisdiction, the military court would now only have authority over matters related to terrorism, espionage, treason, illegal drugs and currency counterfeiting.

“This is a significant milestone toward the aspired reforms in line with consistent demands by reform movements in Jordan,” Momani told The Associated Press following the Cabinet endorsement.

He said one of the most controversial offenses removed from the court’s jurisdiction is criticizing the king in public, better known as lesser majeste – punishable by up to 3 years in jail. In practice however, the king often intervened and pardoned his critics.

Reformist activist Assef Nasser said it was a “step in the right direction.”

“We hope that the ultimate goal would be to dissolve the court altogether,” said the activist, who faces trial in the military court with 10 other young Jordanians on charges of plotting to overthrow the government for taking part in violent riots last November over an across-the-board fuel price hike. Four people, including three policemen, were killed and scores of others were wounded in the unusual violence.

Jordan has seen protests calling for reforms, but they were much smaller and relatively peaceful compared to mass and violent demonstrations in other Arab capitals.

Jordan’s king was able to stave off the violence that swept other Arab countries in the so-called Arab Spring that toppled four Arab leaders in 2011 by speeding up reforms he initiated since he ascended to the throne in 1999.

The changes included removing restrictions on public gatherings, holding parliamentary elections and amending 42 articles, or one-third, of the 60-year-old constitution, giving more powers to the elected parliament. The king promised more powers to the legislature gradually over the next few years as the crown takes a step back from running the daily affairs of state.

(Source / 01.09.2013)

‘I never promised you a rose garden’

By Engelbert Luitsz              ©              (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2286)

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine, 
There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK!!! (take your pick)

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Joe South

obama_rose_garden

De opmerkingen over een aanval op Syrië van Obama gisteren, vanuit de Rose Garden van het Witte Huis, worden door bijna iedereen als ‘nogal vreemd’ gezien. De immer alerte Richard Falk heeft zijngedachten laten gaan over wat we hier hebben aanschouwd en ik zal zijn artikel samenvatten.
Voor mij was de speech van John Kerry eerder vorige week misschien nog wel belangrijker. Vol passie en als een doorgewinterde populist probeerde hij het Amerikaanse volk op te hitsen. Hij moet voor de gelegenheid Obama’s tekstschrijver hebben geleend. Of, geleend? Voor mij leek het meer een omslagpunt. Kerry kwam als de daadkrachtige cowboy naar voren die het vrije Westen wees op diens morele plicht: het doen verdwijnen van de dictator Assad die gifgas gebruikt tegen onschuldige burgers (en kinderen!). Obama daarentegen kwam over als een twijfelaar, iemand zonder ruggengraat, die niet durft in te grijpen wanneer dat noodzakelijk is. Het was het einde van Obama voor mij. Je mag de American dream niet verloochenen. Dat niemand in de Verenigde Staten weetwaar Syrië ligt en nog minder wat er gebeurd is en wie er achter de gifgasaanvallen zit, zijn details waar een ware leider zich niets van aan moet trekken. Anders verandert er nooit iets.

Falk ziet minstens drie dimensies die nadere uitleg verdienen. Ten eerste het zoeken naar toestemming van het Congres wegens het gebruik van chemische wapens in een militair conflict; ten tweede het laten overeenstemmen van de toestemming van het Congres met verplichtingen ten opzichte van het internationaal recht en de Verenigde Naties; ten derde de vraag in hoeverre Amerika’s oorlogstrommen blijven klinken binnen het onaanvaardbare domein van het Amerikaans Exceptionalisme.

Volgens Falk is Obama niet erg coherent in de framing van het probleem die de fundamentele beleidskeuzes bepaalt:

1

Obama beweert dat er onweerlegbaar bewijs is dat Assad achter de gifgasaanval zit (we hebben het over de laatste, niet over eerdere waar geen camera’s bij waren; herlees in dat verband ook Baudrillards La Guerre du Golfe n’a pas eu lieu eens). John Kerry, Joe Biden en anderen vinden een onderzoek van VN-inspecteurs naar wat er gebeurd is (niet wie het gedaan heeft) volstrekt irrelevant. In het licht van de cynische klucht rondom de vermeende WMD’s van Saddam Hoessein is dit wel erg doorzichtig (zie bijvoorbeeld Wilson versus Cheney, of wat er met je gebeurt als je geenmassavernietigingswapens vindt wanneer je die wel behoort te vinden).

2

De geboeide luisteraars in de Rose Garden werden getrakteerd op een demagogisch meesterwerkje. Obama had het over “.. na zorgvuldige overweging”, “nationale veiligheidsbelangen”, en meer fraais. Het was duidelijk een boodschap aan het adres van Iran en Noord-Korea om af te zien van elke actie die het imago van Amerika als internationale politieagent en rechter zou kunnen schaden.

3

Obama deed geen enkele moeite uit te leggen hoe de Verenigde Staten zonder VN-mandaat een soevereine staat konden aanvallen zonder dat er sprake was van zelfverdediging.

4

Het was Obama niet ontgaan dat Cameron moest afhaken (hij noemde Frankrijk nu opeens Amerika’s “oudste bondgenoot“). Sindsdien schreef The Telegraph echter over een poll in Frankrijk waaruit blijkt dat de Fransen in grote meerderheid tegen deelname aan een militaire actie zijn. Dat was Obama kennelijk nog niet ter ore gekomen (en Falk ook niet geloof ik).
Obama repte ook niet over de tegenzin van bijvoorbeeld Duitsland, Italië en de Arabische Liga om mee te gaan in dit lugubere avontuur.

5

Obama hoeft als president van de Verenigde Staten niet per se de goedkeuring van het Congres te hebben bij een militaire aanval. In een bizarre draai zoekt hij nu toch de goedkeuring van het Congres, door middel van een debat en stemming. Als hij het Congres achter zich krijgt moeten we dus geloven dat het bloedbad dat gaat volgen de uitkomst is van een “waar democratisch proces”. En als hij het zonder het Congres doorzet, blijft hij nog steeds een democraat. Sommige mensen zijn nu eenmaal meer democraat dan anderen.
Het is interessant te vermelden dat een initiatief om de militaire steun aan Egypte direct stop te zetten na de coup van generaal el-Sisi, door datzelfde Congres werd afgewezen, na tussenkomst van de Israëllobby AIPAC (Israël medeschuldig aan bloedbad Egypte).

6

Obama:

Maar wij zijn de Verenigde Staten en wij kunnen en mogen niet de andere kant op kijken bij wat er in Damascus gebeurt.

Het nationale voorrecht van illegaal unilateralisme, zoals Falk het noemt.

Het hele – en hele lange – stuk van Richard Falk is meer dan de moeite waard, maar hopelijk heb ik duidelijk gemaakt wat de kern van zijn betoog is.

Uitstel van een aanval heeft twee bijkomende voordelen:
de Verenigde Staten en Israël hebben zo meer tijd om zich voor te bereiden en belangrijke afspraken te maken met andere schurkenstaten als Saoedi-Arabië;
daarnaast naderen we de omineuze datum 9/11, je bent geen meester in massapsychologie als je dat niet gaat uitbuiten natuurlijk.

De vorig jaar overleden Gore Vidal heeft het ooit goed geformuleerd: Amerika is een land met één politieke partij die twee rechter vleugels heeft: de democraten en de republikeinen.

To be or not to be … in Syrië

Syrië staat volop in de publiciteit; in dit eerste artikel van mogelijk een serie, gaan we naar de reactie van de Verenigde Staten van afgelopen week, de lang verwachte speech van president Obama.

De laatste dagen vallen de verschillende artikelen over de zogenaamde gasaanval in Syrië, over elkaar heen, de een weet het nog beter dan de ander. De heer Kerry weet al te vertellen dat het om sarin gas gaat. Vooralsnog moeten we eerst  wachten op de resultaten van het VN onderzoeksteam dat monsters heeft genomen en die in verschillende laboratoria onderzocht gaan worden. Hiervoor worden ook al hele artikelen geschreven, de tests zouden mogelijk drie weken kunnen gaan duren.

Maar wat me het meest bezig houdt, zijn de woorden van de heren Kerry en Obama; niet over een aanval, niet over  tijd, niet over toestemming vragen aan het Congres … Neen, de woorden die ik hoorde waren “ons belang” en “onze veiligheid”. Dit zijn de woorden die m.n. Barak Obama gebruikte in zijn toespraak, hij was bezorg om de veiligheid van de VS en om het belang van de VS. Ik vraag me dan meteen af, welk belang en welke veiligheid? Ik heb nog geen belang gezien van de VS om een oorlog te starten, want dat zal gaan gebeuren …  behalve de mogelijke belangen van de bondgenoot in de regio: Israël, de zionistische bezetter van Palestina.

Maar de president van de VS gaf eigenlijk in zoveel woorden aan, geen moer te voelen voor de personen die onder de onbeschofte gifgasaanval zijn vermoord of verwond, neen het gaat hem om belangen. Wederom – en dat heb ik in eerdere artikelen aangegeven – zal een zombieleger als een Rambo olifant door de Syrische porseleinkast donderen, de leider onderste boven schieten of liever laten schieten, chaos veroorzaken en weer verdwijnen, waarbij de zgn. helden weer nieuwe Purple Hearts uitgedeeld krijgen.
Maar nadat in Engeland David Cameron het onderspit moest delven, moet president Obama de alternatieve route naar Syrië nemen. De meest trouwe bondgenoot kreeg een aanvalsmotie niet door het Lagerhuis (House of Commons) en moet nu uitvoeren wat er gevraagd wordt, nl. geen aanval op Syrië. Mogelijk heeft de heer Obama aan deze knieval gedacht toen hij met de oplossing uit zijn toverdoos kwam, nl. het Congres om toestemming vragen. En het Congres komt pas na 9 september terug van vakantie.

Zou het wachten een nadeel kunnen zijn voor Obama?  Natuurlijk heeft hij nu meer tijd om medestanders te vinden – zowel in het binnenland als in buitenland – het militaire apparaat voor een complete oorlog in stelling te brengen, de bondgenoot haar stellingen in te laten nemen, maar vooral om het publiek te bespelen. In de VS schijnt meer dan 75% tegen de aanval te zijn, in Engeland overigens momenteel meer dan 60%. Daarentegen staan andere landen en dan m.n. moslimlanden te trappelen van ongeduld om dictator Assad een kopje kleiner te maken. Vooral Turkije en Saoedi Arabië weten niet hoe snel ze zich in grote oorlog moeten storten, mogelijk het begin van de derde wereldoorlog.
Nederland wacht volgens Frans Timmermans op het rapport van de VN, maar aan de andere kant jeuken ook zijn vingers om te beginnen, waarbij hij wordt geholpen door ex-minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, Ben Bot, die aangaf dat Syrië een tik op de vingers moet hebben.

Natuurlijk moet er een oplossing komen in de burgeroorlog in Syrië; het slachten van onschuldige mensen , mannen, vrouwen, kinderen, broeders en zusters, moet zo snel  gestopt worden, maar wat ik dan niet begrijp, is waarom juist de VS de politieagent van de wereld moet zijn. Elke keer als ergens wat is, dan worden de wapens, vliegtuigen en al het andere oorlogsspeelgoed weer uit het vet gehaald en zijn de inschrijvingen van de vrijwilligers om de ‘vijand’ aan te vallen niet bij te houden. Laat Barak Obama zich eens wat meer bezig houden met de interne problematiek en als een volk om hulp roept, dit netjes via de Verenigde Naties  laten lopen. Tenslotte is dat orgaan in het leven geroepen om de veiligheid te garanderen van de wereldburger. Daarentegen zou het handig zijn als het veto geschrapt wordt uit het veiligheidsjargon.

Tenslotte:  is het niet hypocriet te spreken over massavernietigingswapens van landen die niet bevriend zijn, terwijl er geen woord wordt gerept over het nucleaire arsenaal van de bondgenoot en de vele aanvallen met witte fosfor en alle andere stoffen die de VS en Israël zelf nog hebben? Witte fosfor kan ook ellendige schade aan mensen aanbrengen.

Molecuulformule Sarin Gas

 

© KhamakarPress

Stocks of vital medicines hit zero as Egypt, Israel tighten Gaza siege

A Palestinian girl waits to cross into Egypt from the Gaza Strip, at the Rafah crossing, on 24 August 2013.

The Egyptian army began demolishing homes along the country’s border with the Gaza Strip today, an Israeli-style tactic carried out under the pretext of creating a “buffer zone” to “reduce weapons smuggling and illegal crossings by militants.”

In fact, Egypt is tightening its side of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, deepening the economic and medical crisis faced by the territory’s almost 1.7 million Palestinian residents.

The dramatic effects of the tightening siege are revealed in the July monthly humanitarian report, published on 23 August by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Meanwhile, the UN reports that Israel more doubled its number of violent attacks on Gaza fishermen in the first half of this year.

Cut off

Since the military coup that overthrew Egypt’s elected president Muhammad Morsi on 3 July, Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed for prolonged periods or operating far below normal levels.

“The average number of people passing per day in July was 540, less than 30 per cent of the approximately 1,860 who crossed daily in June,” OCHA notes.

“The crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on pedestrian movement via the Erez Crossing.”

Egypt has justified its restrictions often based on fabricated and baseless allegations demonizing Palestinians and claiming that Hamas and Palestinians in Gaza are engaged in hostilities against Egypt.

Medical patients badly affected

With the border so restricted, the effect on people traveling for medical care has been severe.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry routinely refers patients in Gaza for treatment at hospitals in Egypt or Israel – services for which it must pay – due to the inadequacy of health services in the occupied territory.

In July, however, “a total of 131 patients, of whom 22 were children up to 17 years old, were referred by the [health ministry] to Egypt, less than half the usual number,” OCHA reported.

But there were “no compensatory increases” in “referrals through Erez checkpoint to the West Bank and Israel, or to non-Ministry facilities within Gaza in July, suggesting that patients chose to delay medical treatment, rather than seek to obtain a permit to exit through Erez to alternative hospitals.”

Obtaining permission to travel through the Erez crossing into present-day Israel remains onerous and harrowing for Palestinians and, as OCHA states, “Patients aged 18-40 years, especially males, are most often required to submit to Israeli security interviews as part of the application process for permits to exit via Erez. Companions must also apply for permits, and may likewise be called for interviews.”

Israel has often attempted to blackmail Palestinian patients into becoming informers for its secret services in exchange for permission to receive life-saving medical care.

Along with medical patients, thousands of students and other travelers have faced long delays, or have been unable to travel at all.

Essential medicine supplies hit “zero”

Since the coup in Egypt, OCHA reports, “the Ministry of Health in Gaza began restricting X-rays and limiting certain drugs to emergency use only, due to low supplies and the unreliable flow of medical supplies via the Rafah Crossing.”

At the end of July, “27 per cent (128 items) of essential medicines were at zero stock in the Central Drug Store in Gaza and 16 per cent (78 items) were at low stock (between 1-3 months’ supply).”

OCHA adds:

Twenty-five per cent of [Gaza’s] drug supplies are normally received from, or through, Egypt via this crossing. Two principal Egyptian donors, the Arab Physicians Union and the Physicians Syndicate, are expected to halt donations to Gaza in view of current urgent needs in Egypt. These groups have played a crucial role as a source for rapid supply of critical items, such as dialysis solutions, common chemotherapy drugs, Factor VIII for haemophilia, immunosuppressants for kidney transplant patients and treatments for other chronic blood disease conditions. Any sustained gap in the supply of these items would have immediate negative impact on patients. The Human Appeal International (United Arab Emirates) and Qatar Red Crescent also provide donations to the MoH in Gaza via Rafah, but according to the MoH, only one drug shipment has been received via that route since 30 June, from an Italian NGO.

Construction industry collapsing

Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza watch as Egyptian forces on the other side destroy supply tunnels running under the border, on 1 September 2013.

Egypt has intensified its efforts to destroy the tunnels under the border with Gaza, that are avital lifeline for the territory’s economy.

Because of Israel’s embargo, OCHA says, the “tunnels remain the main entry point for the transfer of construction materials into the Gaza Strip.”

In July, Egypt’s crackdown “included the destruction and flooding of tunnels, as well as the extensive deployment of security forces and the imposition of severe restrictions on access to the tunnel areas.”

A Palestinian worker rests in a supply tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border on 27 August 2013.

(Eyad Al Baba / APA images)

As a consequences, OCHA reports:

The Palestinian Federation of Industries estimated that, on average, around 1,500 tonnes of construction materials entered Gaza through the tunnels per day, compared to 7,500 tonnes prior to the imposition of the recent measures. The price of construction materials on local markets rose sharply before declining to between 20 to 30 per cent above the normal price by the end of the month, and leading to a sharp slowdown in construction activities and the operation of concrete mix factories.

The crackdown on the tunnels has also caused chronic shortages of fuel.

Meanwhile, Israel has attempted to paint the situation in Gaza as normal, or even flourishing, as when it published a cynical piece of propaganda claiming that Gaza is prospering.

An Israeli army propaganda release in August notoriously included an image of a luxury shopping mall in Malaysia that it falsely claimed was in the Gaza Strip.

Attacks on fishermen more than double

Under the 1993 Oslo accords, Palestinians are supposed to be able to fish up to 20 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza. But Israel violently enforces a unilateral three-mile limit in violation of the agreements.

Since the ceasefire agreement after Israel’s November 2012 attack on Gaza, there has been a sharp increase in Israeli attacks on fishing boats, according to OCHA:

The number of violent incidents recorded during the first half of 2013, in the context of the enforcement of access restrictions at sea by the Israeli Navy,significantly increased compared to the previous six months (July-December 2012): shooting incidents more than doubled (95 vs. 43); incidents involvinginjuries were recorded for the first time in over a year (5 vs. 0); and the number of incidents in which fishing equipment was damaged or confiscated also increased significantly (12 vs.2). On the other hand, the number of fishermen detained (13 vs. 42) and boats confiscated (3 vs. 7) decreased significantly, while the number of boats damaged or destroyed was comparable to the previous reporting period (8 vs.9).

Palestinians now face an additional danger at sea. Medics reported on Friday thatEgyptian gunboats opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats injuring two fishermen. Five others were detained, reports said.

The space in which Palestinians can try to ply their trade and earn a living at sea, or on land, in Gaza is being squeezed in a vice between Israel and its Egyptian army allies.

“Gaza has never harmed Egypt”

Palestinians in Gaza are feeling the pressure. As Asem Alnabeh, a university student in the territory commented on Twitter, “In Mubarak’s time … the occupation announced the war on Gaza from the heart of Cairo. But today [Israel] does not need to carry out a new war. The Egyptian army does it instead.”

Alnabeh was referring to the violent threats made during a visit to Cairo by Israel’s then foreign minister Tzipi Livni, just days before Israel’s December 2008 – January 2009 invasion of Gaza that killed 1,400 persons.

“Gaza has never harmed Egypt for a single day,” Alnabeh added, expressing the frustration many in Gaza feel at Egypt’s actions.

“We are ready to die for your sake. We supported your revolution and never fired a bullet toward you. Why are you joining hands with the occupation in fighting against Gaza?”

(Source / 01.09.2013)

Egypt army plans buffer zone along Gaza border

CAIRO (Ma’an) — Egypt plans to impose a 500-meter buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip, a senior Egyptian military official said Sunday.

Egyptian residents living in Saladin, al-Barahmeh, Canada, Brazil, al-Sarsouriya and other neighborhoods close to the Gaza border have received eviction notices.

Homeowners who received eviction orders demonstrated against the decision and burned tires in protest.

Army bulldozers have also uprooted trees in the border area.

The army has demolished 13 homes in the al-Sarsouriya neighborhood where tunnel entrances were found.

An Egyptian military official told Ma’an that most cross-border tunnels with entrances in fields or open areas had been destroyed in a security campaign to stop smuggling. He said it was more difficult to locate tunnels that opened into houses.

Egypt’s army spokesman Ahmad Mohammad said that forces have destroyed 343 smuggling tunnels. He said the Egyptian military has also prohibited fishing near the border to prevent smuggling via the sea.

Hamas said Friday that two Palestinian fishermen were wounded and five others arrested by the Egyptian navy off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

“Some Egyptian navy ships fired in the direction of Palestinian fishing boats near the Egyptian border off the coast of Rafah at dawn on Friday,” the Hamas government’s press agency reported.

“Two fishermen were wounded and five others arrested,” said Hamas.

They were both taken to the hospital in Rafah, medical sources said, adding that their lives were not in danger.

Hamas described the incident as an “unjustified act,” and called for those “detained to be freed.”

Egypt did not immediately confirm the incident, which took place amid growing tensions with Hamas.

Gaza fishing boats often venture into Egyptian waters to compensate for the restriction caused by a maritime blockade imposed by Israel on the coastal strip.

But the practice has been less and less tolerated, since former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood is close to Hamas, was ousted in a military coup on July 3.

Under the terms of the current Israeli restrictions, Gaza fishermen are not allowed to enter waters more than six nautical miles from the shore, and complain that the area is insufficient to support the needs of Gaza’s population.

(Source / 01.09.2013)

Saudi Arabia: Rights groups blocked from operating- HRW

SaudiArabia1Web-500x333

Saudi officials have been refusing to register human rights groups, leaving members subject to criminal prosecution for “setting up an unregistered organization.,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

HRW urges Saudi authorities to stop blocking the registration of human rights organizations and other independent groups and pass an associations law that gives groups the right to operate without undue government interference.

On August 28, 2013, founders of the Adala Center for Human Rights received an appeals court verdict affirming the Social Affairs Ministry’s denial of registration. The ministry said it can only license charitable organizations, and that Adala’s activities are not covered under the ministry’s definition of a charity. It was the latest in a series of such refusals to register human rights groups.

“Saudi Arabia created a catch 22 situation and is exploiting it to harass and prosecute human rights activists,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director. “The authorities should immediately pass an associations law that meets international standards, and let independent human rights and other activists operate without harassment.”

Saudi officials have spoken of passing an associations law that would permit the formation of non-charity organizations. The Social Affairs Ministry in 2006 submitted a first draft to the Shura Council, the highest advisory body to the king. According to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the Shura Council approved an amended version and submitted it to the Council of Ministers for final approval in 2008, but the ministers have taken no action since studying the law in 2009. The most recent version would allow groups to operate only under highly restrictive conditions.

The Adala Center for Human Rights is based in Eastern Province – and is dedicated, in the words of its website, to “spreading a culture of human rights and capacity building,” “strengthening the relationship between rights groups and the media,” “monitoring and documenting human rights cases,” and “supporting victims of abuses.” Activists who established the center submitted a registration application to the Social Affairs Ministry in December 2011.

In the absence of an associations law, the ministry regulates nongovernmental groups in accordance with the Regulation on Charitable Associations and Foundations (Council of Ministers decision no. 107 of 1990). Article 2 authorizes the ministry to register charitable, educational, cultural, and health associations that “are related to humanitarian services and do not have the goal of obtaining material profit.”

In December 2011 the ministry notified Adala that it had rejected its application on the basis that its objectives are “not in line with the regulation on charitable foundations and associations.”

In April 2012, members of the center filed a lawsuit against the ministry before an administrative court, contending that the objectives of “education, spreading a culture of human rights,” and “educating people about their rights and duties as citizens” do not contradict the provisions of article 2. Adala’s lawyer noted that establishment of the center falls in line with the first objective of King Abdullah’s Ninth Development Plan, issued in 2009, which aims to “guarantee human rights,” among other objectives.

Following a 13-month court battle, a panel of three administrative court judges unanimously rejected Adala’s claim on May 27, 2013, upholding the ministry’s position. The judgment, which Human Rights Watch has reviewed, also took issue with Adala’s stated reliance on principles of international human rights law, saying, “It is known for certain that many of [these] laws are not in agreement with Islamic Law, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country whose constitution is the book of God [the Qur’an] and the Sunna of his messenger…”

Adala appealed the ruling on July 9, but a Saudi appeals court upheld the administrative court ruling on August 28. Local activists told Human Rights Watch that Adala may close its doors in the absence of the passage of an associations law that would allow the group to acquire legal standing.

“As Saudi Arabia openly campaigns for a seat next year on the UN Human Rights Council, member states should take notice that a Saudi court has ruled that certain human rights standards are not applicable in the kingdom,” Stork said. “Freedom of association is a bedrock human rights principle, yet it is impossible to exercise that right in Saudi Arabia.”

(Source / 01.09.2013)

Revealed: Britain sold nerve gas chemicals to Syria 10 months after war began

FURIOUS politicians have demanded Prime Minister David Cameron explain why chemical export licences were granted to firms last January – 10 months after the Syrian uprising began.

Men search for survivors amid debris of collapsed buildings
Men search for survivors amid debris of collapsed buildings
BRITAIN allowed firms to sell chemicals to Syria capable of being used to make nerve gas, the Sunday Mail can reveal today.

Export licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride were granted months after the bloody civil war in the Middle East began.

The chemical is capable of being used to make weapons such as sarin, thought to be the nerve gas used in the attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb which killed nearly 1500 people, including 426 children, 10 days ago.

President Bashar Assad’s forces have been blamed for the attack, leading to calls for an armed response from the West.

British MPs voted against joining America in a strike. But last night, President Barack Obama said he will seek the approval of Congress to take military action.

The chemical export licences were granted by Business Secretary Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last January – 10 months after the Syrian uprising began.

They were only revoked six months later, when the European Union imposed tough sanctions on Assad’s regime.

Yesterday, politicians and anti-arms trade campaigners urged Prime Minister David Cameron to explain why the licences were granted.

Dunfermline and West Fife Labour MP Thomas Docherty, who sits on the House of Commons’ Committees on Arms Export Controls, plans to lodge Parliamentary questions tomorrow and write to Cable.

He said: “At best it has been negligent and at worst reckless to export material that could have been used to create chemical weapons.

“MPs will be horrified and furious that the UK Government has been allowing the sale of these ingredients to Syria.

“What the hell were they doing granting a licence in the first place?

“I would like to know what investigations have been carried out to establish if any of this
material exported to Syria was subsequently used in the attacks on its own people.”

The SNP’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson MP, said: “I will be raising this in Parliament as soon as possible to find out what examination the UK Government made of where these chemicals were going and what they were to be used for.

“Approving the sale of chemicals which can be converted into lethal weapons during a civil war is a very serious issue.

“We need to know who these chemicals were sold to, why they were sold, and whether the UK Government were aware that the chemicals could potentially be used for chemical weapons.

“The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria makes a full explanation around these shady deals even more important.”

 

A man holds the body of a dead child
A man holds the body of a dead child
Mark Bitel of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (Scotland) said: “The UK Government claims to have an ethical policy on arms exports, but when it comes down to practice the reality is very different.

“The Government is hypocritical to talk about chemical weapons if it’s granting licences to companies to export to regimes such as Syria.

“We saw David Cameron, in the wake of the Arab Spring, rushing off to the Middle East with arms companies to promote business.”

Some details emerged in July of the UK’s sale of the chemicals to Syria but the crucial dates of the exports were withheld.

The Government have refused to identify the licence holders or say whether the licences were issued to one or two companies.

The chemicals are in powder form and highly toxic. The licences specified that they should be used for making aluminium structures such as window frames.

Professor Alastair Hay, an expert in environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said: “They have a variety of industrial uses.

“But when you’re making a nerve agent, you attach a fluoride element and that’s what gives it
its toxic properties.

“Fluoride is key to making these munitions.

“Whether these elements were used by Syria to make nerve agents is something only subsequent investigation will reveal.”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The UK Government operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world.

“An export licence would not be granted where we assess there is a clear risk the goods might be used for internal repression, provoke or prolong conflict within a country, be used aggressively against another country or risk our national security.

“When circumstances change or new information comes to light, we can – and do – revoke licences where the proposed export is no longer consistent with the criteria.”

Assad’s regime have denied blame for the nerve gas attack, saying the accusations are “full of lies”. They have pointed the finger at rebels.

UN weapons inspectors investigating the atrocity left Damascus just before dawn yesterday and crossed into Lebanon after gathering evidence for four days.

They are now travelling to the Dutch HQ of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.

It could take up to two weeks for the results of tests on samples taken from victims of the attack, as well as from water, soil and shrapnel, to be revealed.

On Thursday night, Cameron referred to a Joint Intelligence Committee report on Assad’s use of chemical weapons as he tried in vain to persuade MPs to back military action. The report said the regime had used chemical weapons at least 14 times since last year.

Russian president Vladimir Putin yesterday attacked America’s stance and urged Obama to show evidence to the UN that Assad’s regime was guilty.

Russia and Iran are Syria’s staunchest allies. The Russians have given arms and military backing to Assad during the civil war which has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

Putin said it would be “utter nonsense” for Syria to provoke opponents and spark military
retaliation from the West by using chemical weapons.

But the White House, backed by the French government, remain convinced of Assad’s guilt, and Obama proposes “limited, narrow” military action to punish the regime.

He has the power to order a strike, but last night said he would seek approval from Congress.

Obama called the chemical attack “an assault on human dignity” and said: “We are prepared to strike whenever we choose.”

He added: “Our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive. It will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.

“And I’m prepared to give that order.”

Some fear an attack on Syria will spark retaliation against US allies in the region, such
as Jordan, Turkey and Israel.

General Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, described the Commons vote as a “victory for common sense and democracy”.

He added that the “drumbeat for war” had dwindled among the British public in recent days.

(Source / 01.09.2013)

Saudi Arabia calls on world community to act on Syria

The Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal said it is time for the world to do everything it can to prevent aggression against the Syrian people, and that it would back a US strike on Syria if the Syrian people did.

“We call upon the international community with all its power to stop this aggression against the Syrian people,” Faisal said in Cairo, where he was attending a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers to discuss Syria.

On the prospect of a US strike, he said: “We stand by the will of the Syrian people. They know best their interests, so whatever they accept, we accept, and whatever they refuse, we refuse.” The meeting was expected formally to blame Assad for the gas attack.

(Source / 01.09.2013)

Kerry: Sarin gas used in Damascus attack

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement at the State Department in Washington, DC, Aug. 30.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States has proof sarin gas was used in a Damascus attack, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday, as he urged Congress to vote for military action against the Syrian regime.

Hair and blood samples given to the United States from emergency workers on the scene of last month’s attack in the Syrian capital have showed signs of the powerful sarin nerve gas, Kerry told NBC and CNN television.

In what he called “a very important recent development… in the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States and that have now been tested from first responders in East Damascus, (that) hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin,” Kerry told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“Each day that goes by, this case is even stronger. We know that the regime ordered this attack. We know they prepared for it. We know where the rockets came from. We know where they landed,” he added on CNN.

“We know the damage that was done afterwards. We’ve seen the horrific scene all over the social media, and we have evidence of it in other ways, and we know that the regime tried to cover up afterwards.”

Kerry blitzed the Sunday morning television talk shows to relaunch his bid to build the case for US military strikes in Syria after President Barack Obama called for Congress to vote to authorize action.

He urged his former colleagues in Congress to give Obama a green-light for strikes against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

In a huge political gamble, Obama has committed the fate of US action to lawmakers, lifting the threat of immediate strikes.

Obama said he had decided an August 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people was so heinous that he would respond with a limited US military strike.

But, in a move which could reshape the balance of power between Capitol Hill and the presidency, he said he believed it was important to secure support from Congress to wage war.

Obama will be relatively confident of winning a vote in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats and includes a number of Republicans, like Senator John McCain, who have argued for military action against Syria.

But it would be hazardous to predict how the vote will go in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which will debate Syria as soon as it comes back into session on September 9.

Kerry told NBC he believed the call for action would be approved by Congress.

“I do not believe the Congress of the United States will turn its back on this moment… I believe Congress will pass it,” he said.

“I don’t believe that my former colleagues in the United States Senate and the House will turn their backs on all of our interests, on the credibility of our country, on the norm with respect to the enforcement of the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, which has been in place since 1925,” Kerry said.

“The Congress adopted the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Congress has passed the Syria Accountability Act. Congress has a responsibility here too.”

(Source / 01.09.2013)