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Dagelijks archief 20 september 2013

Shimon Peres richting Internationaal Strafhof

By Engelbert Luitsz       ©     (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2531)

Ik kan u duidelijk zeggen dat wij geen kernwapens in de regio zullen introduceren, en wij zullen zeer zeker niet de eersten zijn.
Shimon Peres tegen John F. Kennedy in 1963

eu diplomaten west bank

De Franse diplomaat Marion Castaing wordt met geweld uit een vrachtwagen gesleept, waarin hulpgoederen zaten voor Palestijnen. Verschillende EU-diplomaten werden schandalig behandeld door de Israëlische militairen en de vrachtwagen werd gestolen. Iedereen is benieuwd naar de reactie van vredesduif Peres. Vandaag in Palestina!

De president van Israël, Shimon Peres, komt naar Nederland. De van oorsprong Poolse Peres (Szymon Perski) is dit jaar negentig geworden, een mooie gelegenheid om hem eens in de watten te leggen. Al in juni, bij het begin van het vijfde Presidentiële Congres, kreeg Peres een voorschotje op zijn verjaardag die op 2 augustus viel. Het congres is een angstaanjagend goed georganiseerde propagandancampagne. Er werden duizenden wetenschappers, politici, kunstenaars, schrijvers, denkers, zakenlieden, economen uitgenodigd om Israël een status te geven die ver boven die van andere landen dient uit te stijgen. Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Netanyahu en andere hoogwaardigheidsbekleders deden een wedstrijdje ‘Wie kan het klefst doen?‘ “Wij hebben onze koningin en jullie hebben Shimon.” Barbara Streisand mocht weer van leer trekken en een groot kinderkoor zong Give Peace A Chance.

Niet toevallig had Netanyahu diezelfde woorden gebruikt toen hij een jaar eerder president Abbastoesprak: ‘Give peace a chance’. Interessant, want John Lennons weduwe Yoko Ono heeft in 2004 een Vredesprijs (ter nagedachtenis aan John) toegekend aan de Israëlische klokkenluider Mordechai Vanunu, die informatie over Israëls nucleaire programma openbaar had gemaakt.

Shimon Peres wordt beschouwd als de drijvende kracht achter het nucleaire programma van Israël met de reactor te Dimona. Daarmee werd direct het machtsevenwicht verstoord, aangezien Israël nog steeds het enige land in het Midden-Oosten is met kernwapens. In 1963 had Peres nog in alle toonaarden tegenover president Kennedy ontkend dat Israël bezig was met een kernwapenprogramma. Maar niet lang daarna lag het helemaal anders.

In 1975 bood Shimon Peres, toen nog minister van Defensie, kernwapens aan aan het Apartheidsregime in Zuid-Afrika. Hij had ze zelfs “in drie smaken” in de aanbieding.

Shimon Peres

In 1947 werd Peres lid van de Haganah (wat later de IDF, het Israëlische leger, zou worden) en werd door Ben-Goerion verantwoordelijk gemaakt voor de aankoop van wapens en materieel. In die hoedanigheid heeft hij een belangrijke rol gespeeld bij de etnische zuivering van de Palestijnen van 1947 tot 1949 (de Nakba).

In 1954 was Peres betrokken bij een geheime Israëlische operatie in Egypte, bedoeld om chaos te creëren in het land, zodat de Engelse troepen een reden hadden om te blijven. Deze was onder andere gericht tegen de Moslimbroederschap. Niets nieuws onder de zon dus. De officiële codenaam was Operation Susannah, maar de actie staat beter bekend als de Lavon Affair.

Peres was begin jaren zeventig van de vorige eeuw ook bij de eersten die openlijk de oprichting van nederzettingen door extreem-rechtse joden in de veroverde Westelijke Jordaanoever stimuleerden. In 1975 plantte hij de eerste boom voor de nederzetting Ofra.

Peres was van 1984 tot 1986 en van 1995 tot 1996 premier van Israël en sinds 2007 is hij de president.

In 1996 werd bij het Libanese dorp Qana een UNIFIL-basis door de Israëlische luchtmacht gebombardeerd. In dit complex hadden burgers beschutting gezocht, maar 106 vonden de dood en 116 raakten gewond. Premier Peres vond dat er hem niets te verwijten viel, hij “had er vrede mee”. Volgens hem gebruikten de Hezbollah deze mensen als “schild” en gebruikten de mensen de VN weer als “schild” (tegen Israëlische bommen, ongehoord!). Toen die cynische leugens overduidelijk niet waar konden zijn stapte men zoals gebruikelijk over op plan B: het was een ongeluk.

De Nederlander Franklin van Kappen heeft gedetailleerd onderzoek verricht naar het bloedbad van Qana en kwam tot de conclusie dat er geen sprake kon zijn van een vergissing. Het was een duidelijke boodschap aan de VN om zich niet te bemoeien met wat Israël uitspookte (zie ook USS Liberty).

Tijdens de gruwelen van Operatie Gegoten Lood die eind 2008 begon, was Peres dus  president. Hij gaf een korte toelichting op het optreden van Israël, waarmee hij de Duitse antisemitische propagandisten uit het verleden wegzet als amateurs.

In ons hart voelen wij geen haat voor de mensen in de Gazastrook.

Het was allemaal de schuld van Hamas met hun raketten. Noam Chomsky heeft er in een van zijn schaarse momenten van woede ook een toelichting op gegeven, die echter op essentiële punten afwijkt van de visie van Shimon Peres. Het bloedbad was al lang van tevoren gepland en men had alles in het werk gesteld om een reactie uit de Gazastrook uit te lokken, zodat men via de media de “schuld” bij de vrouwen en kinderen van de Gazastrook kon leggen.

De timing was bijvoorbeeld al bijzonder:

…kort voor de middag, toen de kinderen terug kwamen uit school en massa’s mensen zich ophielden in de straten van het dichtbevolkte Gaza Stad. Het kostte maar enkele minuten om meer dan 200 mensen te doden en er 700 te verwonden…

Shimon Peres lag er niet wakker van.

In november 2012 gaf Peres opdracht Ahmed al-Jabari te vermoorden, waarmee de aanzet werd gegeven tot weer een aanval op de Gazastrook, waarbij de oorlogsmisdaden zich wederom opstapelden. Opnieuw vele doden en gewonden en een enorme materiële schade.

Het is slechts een zeer onvolledige lijst, meer details zijn te lezen in dit artikel op de website van het Nederlands Palestina Komitee.

Het meest opmerkelijke is misschien wel dat tegen de verwachting van Peres en anderen in, de vrede niet dichterbij is gekomen door het gebruik van disproportioneel geweld.

Hoog bezoek

alexander_keppel

Voor deze oorlogsmisdadiger wordt hier dus binnenkort de rode loper uitgerold. Hij zal dan in de Eerste Kamer de leden van de Eerste en Tweede Kamer toespreken en eregast zijn in een aflevering van College Tour. Alleen de Ridderzaal was goed genoeg volgens presentator Twan Huys, die na het opwarmertje Willem Holleeder nu ook eens een echte zware jongen mag tonen, “dankzij vrienden van het programma”. Daarnaast zal Peres een lunch nuttigen met niemand minder dan Mark Rutte in het Catshuis en wordt hij eveneens uitgenodigd in Paleis Noordeinde door koning Willem-Alexander.

Je kunt je hier aanmelden voor de College Tour van 4 oktober met Shimon Peres. Hopelijk zullen er ook serieuze demonstraties komen tegen deze waanzin. Het enige voordeel van zijn komst is dat hij dan vast in Den Haag zit. Oh wacht, deze vriend van de Verenigde Staten kunnen we niets ten laste leggen, op straffe van een militaire operatie tegen ons land. En ik heb begrepen dat de Amerikanen onze eventuele JSF‘s met één druk op de knop waardeloos kunnen maken, dus zelfs al hadden we die, dan hadden we er nog niets aan.

We zullen Perski maar aanhoren en vervolgens een wake houden met de Palestijnen. Zo heel veel maakt het ook niet meer uit, dit land is toch al naar de klote.
 
NB Shimon Peres: “Er worden veel Palestijnse kinderen gedood. Er worden bijna geen Israëlische kinderen gedood. Hoe komt dat? Omdat wij goed op onze kinderen passen.”
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z8XQspTXz_A

Israel denies agreement to release 250 Palestinian prisoners

Israeli Prison

Twenty-six out of 104 pre-Oslo prisoners have already been released.

Official sources in Israel have denied reaching an agreement to release an additional 250 Palestinians prisoners along with the long-term 100+ pre-Oslo detainees. According to London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Israel is on the point of agreeing such a move, despite the Israeli denials. Al-Hayat, however, stands by its story, saying that “credible” sources in Palestine have leaked the information.

Twenty-six out of 104 pre-Oslo prisoners have already been released. Another group are expected to be released by the end of October with the rest to be set free by March next year.

(Source / 20.09.2013)

UN official concerned about Jordan Valley attacks

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — UN humanitarian coordinator James Rawley said he was deeply concerned Friday after Israeli forces prevented assistance to Palestinians displaced from their village by Israel.

His remarks came after Israeli forces seized a vehicle carrying tents destined for Makhoul village, which was demolished Wednesday displacing several dozen Palestinians. The forces also confronted members of the humanitarian and diplomatic communities who were present on site, the official said.

“The United Nations and its partners remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to populations in immediate need,” Rawley said in a statement.

“I call upon the Israeli authorities to live up to their obligations as occupying power to protect those communities under their responsibility, including to halt demolitions of Palestinian homes and property.”

He added: “The displacement of a whole Palestinian community in the occupied Palestinian territory is a very disappointing development at such a delicate moment where we look forward to positive measures on the ground.”

The Israeli military said Palestinians were to blame for instigating the incident.

An army spokeswoman said forces were implementing a supreme court decision and “contained the violence with riot dispersal means and detained Palestinians who were the main instigators.”

She added that “reports that foreign diplomats abused their diplomatic privilages are currently being reviewed.”

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Abu Mazen’s Hollow Popularity

“Arab Idol” Mohammed Assaf kisses Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he hands him a diplomatic Palestinian Authority passport during their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 1, 2013.
 RAMALLAH, West Bank — Mahmoud Abbas, the de facto president of the Palestinian Authority, has been dominant in the Palestinian political scene for more than 20 years. In a column on Al-Monitor on Sept. 9, Daoud Kuttab referred to Abbas as Palestine’s “Teflon leader” and highlighted that Abbas continues to poll well among Palestinians despite regular accusations thrown against him. But such polls may not translate into real public affection for Abbas per se, and may have more to do with the lack of a viable alternative.

As far as political failures are concerned, they are abounding for Abbas. Many believed that the Oslo Accords would herald in a new era of peace and stability, but two decades later, the purpose of the agreements, of which Abbas was a key architect, glaringly depict a process designed to cover Israeli occupation policies, all under the nose of a Palestinian government with limited self-rule and zero autonomy.

Elected as the president of the PA in 2005, following the death of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Abbas’ tenure oversaw the political division between Fatah and Hamas, two deadly Israeli military offensives on Gaza — where it is documented that he had previous knowledge of the massacre in the winter of 2008/2009 — and the increase of Jewish-only settlements and settlers alike in the West Bank.

At the same time, the West Bank grew under the illusion of an economic boom, as the transformation of the society into a high-end consumer one and the dependency of Palestinians on loans have mired the population and the Palestinian Authority into colossal debt. The PA’s security forces developed into a sophisticated and widespread force fulfilling the role of the Israeli occupation army while simultaneously suppressing any dissent against the PA and resistance aimed at Israel.

Israeli president Shimon Peres acknowledged that without the Oslo Accords, “there would be no Abu Mazen (Abbas’ nickname). There would be no one to sit with. Instead we have Abu Mazen who says he doesn’t want to return to Safed and Jaffa, who says he is in favor of peace, who is in favor of a Jewish state.”

It is the reformation of the political narrative and the absence of a candid oppositional force that explains why Abbas gets away with his strongly worded and controversial statements, such as his adamant opposition to the outbreak of a third intifada and his quotation on having no right to return to his ethnically cleansed town of Safed as a refugee.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Abaher Elsakka, the head of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Birzeit University, maintains that “popularity” is not necessarily tied to a people’s love for a leader, but to other factors such as the leader’s role as the creator of independence, or the protector of the people’s best interests, or the upholder of internal sociopolitical balances.

“Mahmoud Abbas does not possess the popularity that the late leader Yasser Arafat enjoyed, but there are a number of explanations that clarify why the Palestinian people continue to put up with him,” Elsakka said. “One of them is the stalemate in the Palestinian political arena, and the fear of many Palestinian investors or groups of the collapse of the economy, which depends heavily on foreign aid. Therefore, these groups see it in their best interest to support Abbas politically and economically.”

“More than 200,000 Palestinian families are reliant on the PA for their livelihoods, either through employment at the ministries or the security forces,” he went on, “which through various ways hold large weight in the media and in controlling and convincing public opinion.”

Nizar Banat, a Hebron-based political activist, argues that silence toward the actions of a leader from the population is by no means an indicator of contentment.

“Silence in this case is more of a mark, where people are searching for an alternative from the status quo, or a regional miracle, or war,” Banat said. “Mahmoud Abbas’ popularity is in decline at all levels, but the lack of an oppositional organized front results in a largely silent, hesitant and unsure population. This is also exacerbated by fear due to the instability in Egypt and Syria’s catastrophe to change for the better.”

Banat went on to explain how Abbas used the same methods as his predecessor Arafat to increase the number of yes-men around him, such as the threat to expose influential individuals through money corruption or sex scandals. Abbas, he argued, added another method such as satisfying the interests of the US.

“The regression of the Palestinian left, who are but a shadow of their former selves, and the diverted attention of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to the Muslim Brotherhood and Syria respectively, has contributed to the general sense of mistrust for any political faction,” stated Banat. “One of the ways in which Abbas has manipulated political division is through strengthening the stronghold that the PA security forces have, which has created a state where outspoken criticism of Abbas is rarely heard outside of the social-media world.”

Challenging Abbas’s stances is difficult due to the hierarchy of control that he uses, according to Hasan Safadi, a journalist in the Jerusalem-based Elia Assocation and an archivist in the Institute of Palestinian Studies.

“From the beginning, Abu Mazen has been able to impose himself and his sovereignty over the West Bank after he disarmed the resistance,” Safadi told Al-Monitor. “This proved that he is able to adjust and control the Palestinian public, which gave him the confidence of the West and Israel as a peace partner and an ally who is able to maintain security.”

What controls the public is buttressing the capitalist economy, Safadi points out, which the security issue has paved the way for by attracting civil society institutions to invest in Palestine.

“Abu Mazen, the ability to regulate the masses through money. The Palestinian Authority through its strong union with the Palestinian capital sector, has resulted in forming a loyal base of supporters to him, in order for them to not go back to jobs that entail physical labor.”

“Furthermore, his policy to create delusional goals once in a while is another way to distract the masses,” Safadi continued, “such as taking up the issue of settlements as an interim goal, to the UN bid for statehood, to using the win of [“Arab Idol” winner] Mohammed Assaf to better the PA’s image. … These events seem immaterial, but they do sedate the public, and give the PA some kind of power legitimacy which shows itself as owning a way forward and a clear political horizon.”

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Medics: Israeli forces shoot 2 Palestinians in north Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two people were shot and injured by Israeli forces on Friday in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses said.

Israeli forces in a watchtower north of Beit Lahiya shot at people walking in the area, injuring two, the witnesses said.

Medics said that one person was shot in the foot while another was shot in the thigh. Both suffered moderate injuries.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers opened fire after several Palestinians approached a security fence and hurled rocks in an attempt to damage it.

She said soldiers first fired warning shots to disperse the scene and later fired at the Palestinians when they refused to respond. She said two hits were identified.

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Government takes oath for a second time

RAMALLAH (AFP) — A new government was sworn in on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, weeks after caretaker prime minister Rami Hamdallah agreed to take up the post permanently.

The cabinet was unchanged from its line-up in June — when it was first appointed — but had to take the oath anew after a crisis later that month over what officials described as a “power struggle.”

Hamdallah, who took over from predecessor Salam Fayyad and was sworn in as premier on June 6, resigned two weeks later because of in-fighting between him and his two deputies.

But Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas asked Hamdallah to stay on as caretaker prime minister until a new premier could be appointed.

Abbas then asked Hamdallah, on Aug. 13, to take up the post again permanently and form a new government within five weeks, which Hamdallah accepted.

Hamdallah’s two deputies at the centre of his decision to resign in June, Ziad Abu Amr and Mohammed Mustafa, retained their posts on Thursday.

His June 23 resignation was the second time in 10 weeks that a Palestinian prime minister had tendered his resignation over a power struggle.

In April, then premier Fayyad handed in his resignation following a power struggle with Abbas over the finance portfolio.

Hamdallah’s June appointment was initially seen as an interim measure until Abbas could piece together a long-awaited national unity government foreseen by a 2011 reconciliation agreement between his Fatah movement and its Islamist rival Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Hamas, which refuses to recognize the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority prime minister, is strongly opposed to the resumed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, complicating reconciliation efforts.

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Hundreds of settlers at Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem

 
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — More than 300 Israeli settlers on Friday entered Irtas village, south of Bethlehem, accompanied by Israeli forces to perform prayers over the Jewish holidays, an official said.

Al-Khader popular committee coordinator Ahmad Salah said more than 300 settlers performed “Jewish rituals” at Solomon’s Pools in the area from the early morning hours.

He added that the settlers raided the Solomon’s Pools and Khalet Um al-Fahem area frequently during the week.

More than 1,000 settlers visited Khalet Um al-Fahem near the pools and prevented Palestinians from reaching their lands. The settlers set up tents in the area and slept and prayed there.

The mayor of al-Khader, Tawfiq Salah, told Ma’an that the municipality denounced the settlers’ continuous “raids” at Solomon’s Pools and Khalet Um al-Fahem.

He said this was the first time the settlers set up tents and chairs to celebrate the Jewish holidays in the region, and he called this action a dangerous sign.

He said the municipality was calling on President Mahmoud Abbas to put an end to the raids.

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Ruling Islamists accept plan to resolve Tunisia crisis

A picture taken on September 19, 2013 shows the Tunisian constituent assembly meeting to discuss security issues following the assassination of an opposition leader late July.

Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party announced Friday it has accepted an ambitious roadmap proposed by mediators to form a government of technocrats and resolve the country’s two-month-old political crisis.
“Ennahda announces after examining the proposal… its acceptance and demands that a serious national dialogue is launched to get the country out of the political crisis,” the party said in a statement.

The opposition has yet to declare its position on the initiative, drawn up by Tunisia’s powerful UGTT labour union and presented on Tuesday, which envisages a tight timetable for the formation of a new cabinet, the adoption of a draft constitution and fresh elections.

Tunisia’s political crisis was triggered by the July 25 assassination of opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi, an attack that was blamed on militant Salafists and sparked opposition calls for the government’s immediate resignation.

The roadmap, prepared along with other mediating groups, requires the two sides to meet for a national dialogue attended by President Moncef Marzouki and Prime Minister Ali Larayedh, where the Islamist-led government will formally agree to its replacement within three weeks by a cabinet of independents.

At the same time, it requires the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) to approve an electoral law and commission, draw up the timetable for the parliamentary poll and adopt a new constitution whose drafting has been blocked for months by political wrangling.

The UGTT is due to held a press conference on Saturday morning to announce the result of its latest bid to mediate an end to the crisis. A previous attempt failed earlier this month.

Since the start of the crisis, Tunisia has been rocked by a wave of opposition protests demanding the resignation of the Islamist-led government and the dissolution of the NCA.

Ennahda refuses to resign before agreement has first been reached on outstanding political differences, including on the content of the new constitution and an election timetable.

The opposition say Ennahda has failed to rein in jihadists, whose influence has grown since the 2011 uprising that toppled the former regime, and has not improved social conditions in Tunisia.

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Here’s The Full, Extremist-To-Moderate Spectrum Of The 100,000 Syrian Rebels

 

RTX13NMD (1)Free Syrian Army fighters pose for a photograph with their weapons in the old city of Aleppo September 16, 2013. The flag of the Liwa al-Tawhid is in the background.

Who are the approximately 100,000 rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad?Assad claims that “80 to 90% of those [the Syrian government is] fighting belong to al Qaeda.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry claims that 15% to 25% of the opposition is “bad guys” who belong to an extremist groups.

Neither is accurate.

The complex reality is that there are as many as 1,000 individual armed rebel groups, each of which fall somewhere on the spectrum from al-Qaeda ideologue to secular Syrian Arab Army defector.

Charles Lister of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center recently published a fantastic article detailing “specific nature and composition of the insurgency itself.” According to Lister, nearly half of the rebel forces are jihadist or hardline Islamists.

We’ve drawn on Lister’s insights and other estimates to establish a rough breakdown of the rebels fighting Assad:

Syria Rebels Breakdown_06Estimates of the number of overall FSA fighters varies because of the loose command structure of its Supreme Military Council (SMC) and the fact that the 19 SILF groups technically falls under the command of SMC head Brig. Gen. Salim Idriss.

Rebels groups in SILF range from overtly jihadist (e.g. Suqor al-Sham) to moderate. The strength of the FSA (and extremist groups) going forward will largely depend on where SILF fighters fall on the spectrum.

Lister places the number of “genuine moderates” — rebels wholly loyal to the SMC — between 20,000 and 32,000.

Jihadi dominance

While the FSA has been hampered by lack of cohesion and external support, al-Qaeda-link groups have benefited from structure via al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and resources from Gulf countries.  Other jihadist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, receive funding from the Gulf.

In 2012 al-Qaeda fighters made themselves known on the front lines and subsequently began taking over civil services in Raqqa (where they share power with Ahrar al-Sham) as well as parts of Aleppo (i.e., Syria’s largest city).

Lister notes that “groups on the more extreme end of the spectrum, particularly those affiliated with al-Qaeda, have proven remarkably adept at spreading their military resources across large swathes of territory, joining battles at the pivotal moment, and exploiting their superior organizational structures to establish political control and influence over territory.”

Aaron Zelin, the Richard Borow Fellow at The Washington Institute who also runs the website Jihadology, recently published a two part report detailing ISIS efforts to establish and run an Islamic state in parts of northern Syria in the face of backlash against al-Qaeda’s strict ideology.

syria

Intra-rebel fighting

There are several wars within the war — most of which involve al-Qaeda — and the violent rift between al Qaeda and FSA-affiliated groups is growing.

On Wednesday fighting broke out between FSA and ISIS in the northern border city of Azaz, which is 3 miles from a key official border crossing with Turkey. ISIS reportedly took over the town, and fighters from Liwa al-Tawhid arrived from Aleppo to attempt to mediate the dispute.

The battle lines between rebels are difficult to draw because, as jihadi researcher Phillip Smyth points out, “regional realities play into [each group’s] decisions and dictate how they act.” Furthermore, the most immediate goal of most opposition groups is to oust Assad.

As Zelin notes, “one of the biggest ironies of the conflict is that the deeply fractured opposition has become deeply interconnected on the battlefield, since no one faction is strong enough to strong-arm the others.”

Nevertheless, strong-arming is occurring, and the hostilities between ISIS and FSA could eventually lead to an all out war with the Assad regime being the primary beneficiary.

That’s where Western support is crucial to influencing the estimated 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character.

“Because of the Islamist make up of such a large proportion of the opposition, the fear is that if the West doesn’t play its cards right, it will end up pushing these people away from the people we are backing,” Lister told The Telegraph. “If the West looks as though it is not interested in removing Assad, moderate Islamists are also likely to be pushed further towards extremists.”

Moderate hope

The FSA is pretty strong in the south, and a recent shipment of weapons via Saudi Arabia have bolstered them in and around Damascus.

The Saudis have been working with Jordan, the U.S., U.K., and France to “set up and run an undisclosed joint operations center in Jordan to train vetted Syrian rebels in tactical warfare methods, intelligence, counterintelligence, and weapons application,” according to Interpreter Magazine Editor-In-Chief Michael D. Weiss reported writes.

Weiss reported that 1,000 trainees have graduated from the program, and earlier this month President Obama told senators that the first 50-man cell of CIA-trained fighters had begun sneaking into Syria. (The Pentagon has also offered a plan to train moderate rebels.)

FSA rebels in other areas, especially those with a strong al Qaeda presence, have not received nearly as much ammunition, weapons, and money.

Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed al-Abboud, who commands the eastern front for the SMC, told Weiss that many fighters join groups such as al Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham “for the salary and food.”

“We want to give fighters salaries, even as low as $50,” al-Abboud said, adding that proper support would “change reality in a month.”

Overall, the Syrian rebel spectrum will change as the conflict grinds on. How it changes largely depends on whether the West fulfills its promises of support or balks at toppling Assad.

(Source / 20.09.2013)

Syria details part of chemical arsenal, more to come

Children walk among debris from a damaged school building in the Damascus suburb of Zamalka September 19, 2013. Picture taken September 19, 2013. REUTERS-Abou Nidal alshami
A man rides on a bicycle as people walk at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing, a passageway separating Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr, which is under the rebels' control, and Al-Masharqa neighbourhoods, an area controlled by the regime, September 20, 2013. REUTERS-Ammar Abdullah
Boys play with a football along a street in Yalda in Damascus province September 19, 2013. REUTERS-Ward Al-Keswani

(Reuters) – Syria gave details of some of its chemical weapons to the OPCW arms watchdog at The Hague on Friday but needs to fill in gaps by next week to launch a rapid disarmament operation that may avert U.S. air strikes.

At the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the U.N.-backed agency which is to oversee the removal of President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal, a spokeswoman said: “We have received part of the verification and we expect more.”

She did not say what was missing from a document one U.N. diplomat described as “quite long”. The OPCW’S 41-member Executive Council is due to meet early next week to review Syria’s inventory and to agree on implementing last week’s U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate the entire arsenal in nine months.

The timetable was set down by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a week ago in Geneva when they set aside sharp differences over Syria to agree on a plan to deprive Assad of chemical weapons and so remove the immediate threat from Washington of launching military action.

That plan set a rough deadline of Saturday for Syria to give a full account of the weapons it possesses. Security experts say it has about 1,000 tonnes of mustard gas, VX and sarin – the nerve agent U.N. inspectors found after hundreds were killed by poison following missile strikes on rebel-held areas on August 21.

Kerry said he had spoken to Lavrov by telephone on Friday. They had agreed to continue cooperating, “moving not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations“, Kerry told reporters in Washington.

One Western diplomat warned on Friday that a failure by Assad to account for all the suspected stockpile would cause world powers to seek immediate action at the U.N. Security Council to force Damascus to comply.

If there were gaps in the documentation, the diplomat said, “this matter is going to go straight to the Security Council”.

The United States and its allies said the U.N. inspectors’ report this week left no doubt Assad’s forces were responsible for the August 21 killings. Assad, however, has blamed the rebels and Moscow says the evidence of responsibility is unclear.

The Syrian government has accepted the plan and has already sought to join the OPCW. For Assad, the Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons provided an unexpected reprieve from the military action which President Barack Obama had planned after the August 21 attack. For Obama, it solved a dilemma posed when he found Congress unwilling to support war on Syria.

Once the OPCW executive has voted to follow the Lavrov-Kerry plan in a meeting expected early next week, the Security Council is due to give its endorsement of the arrangements – marking a rare consensus after two years of East-West deadlock over Syria.

However, Russia, which has as veto, remains opposed to attempts by Western powers to have the Security Council write in an explicit and immediate threat of penalties – under what are known as Chapter VII powers. It wants to discuss ways of forcing Syrian compliance only in the event Damascus fails to cooperate.

Obama has warned that he is still prepared to attack Syria, even without a U.N. mandate, if Assad reneges on the deal.

REBEL TROUBLES

Syria’s rebels, who have been fighting to end four decades of Assad family rule since 2011, have voiced dismay at the U.S.-Russian pact and accuse their Western allies of being sidetracked by the chemical weapons issue while Assad’s forces use a large conventional arsenal to try to crush the revolt.

That may see the official opposition look more to its Arab and Turkish supporters for help [ID:nL5N0HF1BW].

It may also hamper Western – and Russian – efforts to bring the warring parties together for a peace conference. Moscow and Washington have said progress on removing chemical weapons could pave the way for a broader diplomatic effort to end a conflict that has killed well over 100,000 and destabilized the region.

The increasing bitterness of the fighting, especially along sectarian lines, and also a fragmentation into rival camps, particularly on the rebel side, will also hamper negotiations.

On Friday, al Qaeda-linked fighters and a unit of Syrian rebels declared a truce after two days of clashes in the town of Azaz near the Turkish frontier that highlighted divisions in the opposition, in which hard line groups are powerful.

Assad’s army, backed by Shi’ite regional power Iran and dominated by officers from Assad’s Alawite religious minority, has mobilized militia and fighters from the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah. Alawites are a Shi’ite offshoot.

Most rebels are from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority. But factions have split as foreign fighters driven by jihad have flocked to the country, often at odds with local Syrians. Ethnic Kurds in the north have fought both sides.

Fighters from an al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had fought with the Northern Storm Brigade, a group that controls the border.

The Syrian National Coalition, a council of political exiles who work with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), accused the jihadist group on Friday of “aggression towards Syrian revolutionary forces and its indifference to the lives of the Syrian people”.

“ISIS no longer fights the Assad regime. Rather, it is strengthening its positions in liberated areas, at the expense of the safety of civilians.

“ISIS is inflicting on the people the same suppression of … the Assad regime,” it said in a statement, attacking the group for this week’s fighting at Azaz.

While some tensions stem from contrasting ideological outlooks, most rebel-on-rebel fighting is more about control of territory and the spoils of war.

In other parts of Syria, al Qaeda-affiliated forces have enticed rebels to join them. Hundreds of rebels, including entire brigades, have pledged allegiance to ISIS and its domestic branch the Nusra Front in northern and eastern Syria, activists and Islamist sources said on Friday.

Washington says the chemical weapons deal has restarted talk of a second peace conference in Geneva. The first round of peace talks in June 2012 failed to end hostilities, but its supporters say it created the framework for an eventual settlement.

Last year’s Geneva agreement aimed to create a transitional government with full executive powers agreed by both the Damascus administration and the Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

But the plan leaves out major players on the ground whose role has grown since. Pro-Assad militias, Kurdish militant groups, al Qaeda-linked rebels and other Islamist brigades that do not pledge allegiance to the FSA are not part of the deal.

“Let’s be clear on this, Geneva 2 will not stabilize Syria,” said Lebanon-based political scientist Hilal Khashan. “It will open a new chapter in the Syria conflict.”

He said that even if the SNC and the government agreed on a transition government, jihadist groups will continue to fight and Kurdish militants will seek autonomy.

Khawla Mattar, spokeswoman for U.N. Syrian envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, said that the onus is on the SNC to be representative of Syrian society: “The Coalition … have to bring the widest representation of Syrian society.”

(Source / 20.09.2013)