GENEVA 2 TALKS IN DISARRAY AS UN GENERAL SECRETARY INVITES IRAN, FORCING SNC TO ISSUE ULTIMATUM

By Peter Clifford                 ©                 (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

After 2 days of agonising the Opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) meeting in Istnabul finally agreed on Saturday to send a delegation to the “peace talks” known as Geneva 2, scheduled in Montreux, Switzerland for later this week starting on Wednesday.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

SNC Votes to Go to Geneva – Now in Doubt

In a secret vote their participation was agreed with 58 votes for, 14 against, 2 abstentions and one blank vote according to an official tally. 40 other members of the Coalition, notably from the Syrian National Council, had already refused to take part in the vote at all.

However, following an invitation given yesterday by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to Iran to attend the talks, SNC participation is once again this morning, Monday, in doubt.

The US, France and UK all also appear shocked at the UN General Secretary’s move, saying the Iran has yet to sign up to the direction agreed at Geneva 1 and the stated aim of Geneva 2, “the establishment of a transitional government in Syria with full executive powers”.

Ban Ki-Moon said on Sunday that after talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran had agreed to play a “positive and constructive role” in efforts to end Syria’s worsening three-year civil war.

France’s Minister, Laurent Fabius, said “It is obvious that no country can take part in the conference unless it expressly accepts its mandate.”

The US has said that unless Iran explicitly declares its support of a June 2012 plan for a political transition, meaning Assad would have to step down, then “the invitation must be rescinded”.

Louay Safi, an SNC spokesman also wrote in a Tweet: “The Syrian Coalition announces that they will withdraw their attendance in G2 unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation.”

Predictably, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, today said the absence of Iran from this week’s peace talks on the Syrian crisis would be an “unforgivable mistake”.

Ban Ki-Moon’s “get out clause” may be that he has invited Iran and 10 other countries to attend the talks in Montreux on 22nd January.

The actual direct talks between the Syrian Opposition and the Syrian Government do not begin until the 24th January when the discussions move to Geneva (which was not available earlier because all hotel accomodation was booked out for a “watch fair”). Al Jazeera has a video report, HERE:

Latest reports Monday afternoon now say that the SNC has given Ban Ki-Moon until 19.00 GMT this evening to rescind his invitation to Iran or they will refuse to attend.

ASSAD STOKES DISSENT BY REPEATING HE IS READY TO STAND FOR RE-ELECTION AND CALLS THE OPPOSITION “A JOKE”: 

President Assad has stoked the fire of dissent himself in a 45 minute interview with AFP which was recorded yesterday, Sunday, and released in full this morning.

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Assad With Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi

In the interview, Assad states that if “public opinion in favour of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election. In short, we can say that the chances for my candidacy are significant.”

Assad dismissed sharing power with the Opposition and made jokes about their effectiveness saying, “Last year, they [the Opposition] claimed that they had control of 70 percent of Syria, yet they didn’t even dare to come to the areas that they had supposed control of”.

They “come to the border for a 30-minute photo opportunity and then they flee. How can they be ministers in the government? These propositions are totally unrealistic, but they do make a good joke!”

Once again he described the Geneva 2 conference as producing “clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria” and described all of the Opposition forces as “one extremist terrorist group comprising various factions.” He also accused France of being a “proxy state” for Qatar and Saudi Arabia. You can read more of the interview, HERE:

Meanwhile, on the ground, the Assad regime continued its merciless bombardment of civilian areas, though in the interview above Assad himself cynically claimed that “The army does not shell neighbourhoods. The army strikes areas where there are terrorists.”

The latest deaths came in the Al-Mayser district of Aleppo where a barrel-bomb attack on Saturday killed 23 people ( including 5 children and a teenager). There is video footage of severe damage to the area, HERE:

There are also reports that regime forces have advanced into the south-eastern district of Aleppo at Sheikh Lutfi, not far from the International Airport but retreated from Tall Sabayn in eastern rural Aleppo, just south-west of Quwaires airbase, after clashes with Opposition fighters

Most of the rest of the fighting in Aleppo province is between moderate/Islamic fighters and the extreme Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Continuing clashes between the 2 Opposition sides are reported to the north of Aleppo city in suburb of Hayyan, while the moderates are claiming that they have driven ISIL out of the whole of western Aleppo countryside.

The moderates also say that they have wrested back control of a stretch of the Aleppo – Damascus road in south-western Aleppo from ISIL and taken over an amusement park, formerly under the Jihadist control, near the Zahraa military base,  HERE:

To the north-east of Aleppo city there have also been violent clashes between moderate Opposition fighters led by the Islamic Front, and ISIL, leading to at least 20 dead, including children, at Manbej. The latest reports say that the moderates have captured an ISIL position at the mills along the eastern entrance to the town.

A good article, from Charles Lister, analysing the anti-Jihadist Opposition revolt, can be read, HERE:

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Map of Current Situation in Syria

SOME RELIEF AT LAST COMES TO YARMOUK CAMP BUT IS IT JUST PART OF AN ASSAD REGIME PLOY TO APPEAR MORE “ACCEPTABLE”? :

In Homs province 12 people ( including 2 women and a child ) were killed following a regime bombardment on Rastan and there are fears that a massed Assad force of at least 7,000 is about to break into Krak des Chevaliers, site of an ancient Crusader fort, where around 23,000, mostly civilians, still remain.

In Raqqah province there have been violent clashes between ISIL and regime forces at Base 17, but ISIL have also been accused of raiding Red Cross warehouses in Raqqah city and removing humanitarian supplies over the weekend.

The Cost of Geneva 2

The Cost of Geneva 2

In Deraa, there has been fierce fighting between the Opposition and regime troops in the eastern district of Deraa city, Al-Manshiyah, and the Opposition have also shelled Government positions at the military security branch and the 132nd brigade, just to the north of there.

In Damascus, some help has finally arrived for the besieged Palestinian residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp, where 57 people are reported to have died from malnutrition and lack of medical care.

The first boxes of supplies got in on Saturday, organised by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent, and the first of those critically injured were removed on Sunday.

The aid agencies hope to remove 600 critically ill people over the next few days and bring in hundreds more packages of supplies.

The breaking of the siege of Yarmouk comes days before the start of the Geneva 2 conference and some might say that this, along with several other negotiated ceasefires around Damascus, is a cynical ploy by the Assad regime to appear to be “caring” of its citizens and “administering to their needs” – instead of killing dozens of them daily.

This article suggests some of the agreed ceasefires – food for arms – have not at all been what they were implied to be and the regime takes advantage wherever it can, manipulating the hunger needs of the starving to get what it wants, HERE:

In other neighbourhoods of the capital, the regime has kept up its barrage of shells, mortars and air attacks, but according to this video the Opposition successfully downed a military transport plane approaching Damascus International Airport using an OSA guided missile system, HERE: 

There are also reports today, Monday, that 15 or more members of the Islamic Front have been killed in battles with regime forces in the Damascus province town of Sednaya but that Opposition fighters have blown up a regime truck in the desert to the north-east of the capital at Qaryatayn killing 30 soldiers.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

For All Prisoners of Conscience in Syria

Five killed by snipers in Lebanon’s Tripoli

(Reuters) – Five people have been killed by sniper fire since Saturday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, medical and security sources said.

The deaths are the latest round of violence fuelled by sectarian tensions over neighboring Syria’s civil war.

Tripoli, 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Syrian border, has been subject to sharp divisions between the Sunni Muslim majority and small Alawite community for decades.

The Lebanese army used “rockets” for the first time to quell the fighting between rival neighborhoods, one security source said, without specifying which weapons were used. Normally, soldiers use assault rifles to target snipers.

The sources said three of the dead belonged to the Sunni Muslim Bab al-Tabbaneh district, whose residents overwhelmingly support the Sunni Muslim rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Two others killed were from the Alawite neighborhood of Jebel Mohsen, which supports fellow Alawite Assad.

Sniper attacks are common along Syria Street, which divides the rival neighborhoods, and adjacent streets.

Sources said 45 people have also been wounded in the past 48 hours in related clashes, including four soldiers. The army has been deployed across the city for months in an effort to quell the violence.

But Tripoli also saw some of the heaviest violence last year. Sectarian fighting in Tripoli killed more than 100 people in the city in 2013. Dozens of people died in gun battles, and twin car bombs at Sunni Muslim mosques in Tripoli killed 42 people in August.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Israeli leaders heading to Davos – to talk peace

Davos Resort - AP

Guarding against the protesters thronging the Alpine resort.

A delegation of 100 leading Israel businessmen are expected to arrive at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos next Sunday to promote a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two people.

Among the Israeli businessman attending as member of group, Break the Impasse, are Ofra Strauss, chairwoman of the Strauss Group, Google Israel CEO Meir Brand, Amdocs co-founder Morris Kahn, founder digital printing company Indigo Benny Landa and discount supermarket chain founder Rami Levy. The Israeli businessmen will meet with the world statesmen and business leaders who attend the annual conference in Davos.

The WEF is dedicating an entire day to discussing an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement and the effect it will have on economic opportunities for both peoples and the entire region. WEF chairman Prof. Klaus Schwab sponsored the BTI delegation’s visit and participation.

Break the Impasse is a Palestinian-Israeli dialogue group led by venture capitalist Yossi Vardi and Palestinian billionaire and politician Munab al-Masri, who will also be attending the conference. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will be attending, as well as Palestinian Authority negotiating team chief Saeb Erekat.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Israel faces isolation with boycotts mounting, UK envoy warns

British Ambassador Matthew Gould (right) says he loves Israel, but fears it faces isolation.

The British ambassador in Tel Aviv has warned Israel it faces increasing isolation.

His comments come as reports emerge that Israeli banks are facing more pressure from European pension funds over their role in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“I love Israel,” the UK envoy Matthew Gould told Israel’s Channel 2 in a report broadcast on 18 January.

“I am concerned that in five years Israel will wake up and find that it does not have enough friends.”

“Attitudes are shifting”

The ambassador added: “Attitudes are shifting, Israel is losing support. I look at the British parliament, look at the media – there is a change. It’s not a tsunami. It happens slowly and it happens over time but if you don’t spot it before it’s too late then it’s very hard to repair.”

Gould said that the recent controversy over new EU rules on supporting Israeli projects located in settlements had nearly resulted in Israel being excluded from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scientific program.

“We were days away from putting in a big rift between British or European science and Israeli science,” Gould admitted.

Settlement business suffering

The wide-ranging Channel 2 report also showed that boycotts are having an impact on Israeli businesses located in its illegal colonies, for example the Barkan Industrial Zone in the occupied West Bank.

There, Ami Guy, owner of a business called “Shamir Salads,” admitted that boycotts were costing his company up to 500,000 Israeli shekels ($143,000) in lost sales per month.

Spreading beyond the “green line”

“Companies have lost contracts, got into trouble with their managements abroad, and managers even received letters threatening the cancellation of investments,” said attorney Daniel Reisner, who assists companies that profiteer in Israel’s illegal colonies.

But Reisner observed that the boycott is moving beyond the “green line” – the boundary between the West Bank, occupied in 1967, and the area of present-day Israel, that was established in 1948.

“We are already seeing the boycott of Israeli companies going up a notch, since these [newly affected] companies operate also [but not exclusively] beyond the green line,” Reisner told Channel 2. “I fear a snowball effect.”

Israeli banks

As if to underscore this prediction, the Financial Times reports today that “ABP, the world’s third-largest pension fund, and two major European investors are reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks over concerns that the banks finance illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian-occupied territories.”

These moves follow the recent decision by Dutch pensions giant PGGM to divest from all Israeli banks.

Sasja Beslik, head of responsible investment for Nordea, one the three investors, predicted: “The pressure on asset owners to live up to their values when it comes to these issues will increase, I am certain about that.”

How to prolong apartheid

In the Channel 2 report, Israeli justice minister and war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni repeated her previous warnings that Israel faces isolation like apatheid South Africa.

“If there’s one thing the world does not understand, it’s the settlements,” she said.

“Negotiations are the only dam which is holding back this wave right now. In the case of a crisis – [the dams] will all be breached.”

“I spoke with Jews living today in South Africa,” Livni said. “They told me that back then they thought they had more time, and one did not need [good relations with] the entire world in every situation. But this is happening all at once. And I am shouting ‘wake up!’”

Livni may have been referring to the fact that while many South African Jews fought valiantly and gave their lives and freedom in the struggle against apartheid, the country’s pro-Israel communal body, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, sided with and publicly defended the apartheid regime.

Tzipi Livni clearly identifies with those who tried to prolong South African apartheid.

Grim reality

“When you google ‘Brazil’ you see beaches, beautiful young women, you see a really rosy reality,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin lamented to Channel 2.

But “when you google ‘Israel’ you see conflict, soldiers, army, Palestinians.”

Elkin and other officials may hope that more propaganda campaigns will distort the image of Israel and obscure its reality as a brutal colonial and military occupier.

But the growing boycott – increasingly acknowledged in Israel itself – indicates that many more people around the world are seeing things as they are, not through the rosy lens Elkin would prefer.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Fragmentation of Muslim states, Zionism plot: Analyst

A political analyst has warned against the global Zionism’s agenda to fragment Muslim countries into small segments in an attempt to boost the US and Israel’s supremacy.

“Part of the agenda is to reduce Muslim states to small ethnic or sectarian-based states, divided, powerless, so they cannot challenge the supremacy of the United States and Israel in the region,” Jahangir Mohammed, the Director of Center for Muslim Affairs told Press TV on Sunday.

The analyst noted that Washington and Tel Aviv’s agenda has focused on “fragmentation or the segmentation of Muslim nations” as it is taking place in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and happened in Sudan.

Mohammed pointed out that the US and Israel are being aided in their scenario by some of the Middle East rulers, “who are pawns in this game.”

The analyst called on the Muslim world to root out the hatred that Zionism is inciting among Islamic groups and said, “A divided Muslim world is a powerless one, we will be killed, we will be slaughtered.”

Extremism and violence have become a major challenge facing the Muslim countries, with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other Middle Eastern nations turning into the scenes of deadly terrorist operations on a daily basis.

On December 18, 2013, the General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) proposal, which calls on all nations across the globe to denounce violence and extremism. The Iranian president made the proposal in his address to the UN Disarmament Conference in New York on September 25.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Syrian children return to Jordan after successful surgeries in Prague

AMMAN — A Czech aircraft landed in Amman with two Syrian children who underwent complicated heart surgery in Prague, according a Czech embassy statement issued on Monday.

The siblings stayed in the Czech capital for more than a month with their mother and older brother.

The army aircraft also carried several tonnes of winter clothes for Syrian families in refugee camps.

The patients — aged six and 17 — had fled to Jordan from Syria and are currently living with their parents near the town of Zarqa, the statement said.

They were diagnosed with severe congenital heart defects, which were never adequately treated.

The surgeries they underwent will give them a “great chance to live a normal life”, the statement said.

Their treatment was part of the MEDEVAC project, under which a team of paediatric cardiologists was deployed in Jordan in mid-December 2013.

During their stay, they conducted six successful surgeries on Syrian children with heart diseases.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Terrorism, nationalism and neoliberalism

 

Dr Sarah MarusekStates are increasingly employing the hegemonic discourse of “terror” to justify collective punishment, the dehumanisation of perceived enemies and the discrimination against communities based on their race or religion, as well as to deny political rights to oppressed groups. In nearly every context, this imagined war on “terror” promotes repressive nationalist projects that either directly or indirectly benefit the interests of Zionism and American empire.

As lawyer Jonathan Turley recently argued in Al-Jazeera English, the US-led war on “terror” has created a vast industry linking American foreign policy together with multinational corporations and a growing government bureaucracy that sustains the US economy by employing millions. Turley notes that: “The core of this expanding complex is an axis of influence of corporations, lobbyists, and agencies that have created a massive, self-sustaining terror-based industry.”

Furthermore, the US has exported its discourse of “terror” so successfully that both allies and foes alike are now embracing the hegemonic framework, ultimately empowering this neoliberal axis of elites who financially benefit from the world being in a perpetual state of war.

As a product of empire myself, I cannot help thinking that it is a mad world indeed when those who my country has labelled terrorists in order to unfairly criminalise, murder and oppress them suddenly start ascribing others with the same label. Although we all know that the war on “terror” can never be won by force, we seem to have forgotten that empire still profits from waging it.

In fact, the globalisation of the war on “terror” illustrates that empire is winning. It is not a coincidence that at around the same time neoliberalism was recognised to be unsustainable without the use of force, the discourse of “terror” concurrently emerged to justify perpetual violence. Scholar Mahmood Mamdani and filmmaker Adam Curtis have both convincingly demonstrated that empire financed and supported yesterday the fighters it calls terrorists today.

While the concept of terrorism is not new, it has been dramatically altered in recent years. The modern notion of terror actually emerged during the events surrounding the French Revolution (1789-99), when perceived enemies of the rebellion were killed in the thousands in what came to be known as the “Reign of Terror”. Maximilien de Robespierre, one of the leaders of the revolution and an architect of the ensuing terror, explained to his peers that: “If the basis of a popular government in peacetime is virtue, its basis in a time of revolution is virtue and terror – virtue, without which terror would be barbaric; and terror, without which virtue would be impotent.”

According to Robespierre, what differentiates terror from barbarism is that the former is inherently political in nature. Terrorist violence is committed to achieving a particular political objective. In the case of the French Revolution, the revolutionary government terrorised reactionaries and the people more generally with the aim to re-imagine and re-structure radically contemporary French society and culture in the name of liberty and equality, however brutal the intermediate results.

In the following two centuries, authoritarian states and revolutionary movements both practiced terror to achieve political ends that ranged from emancipatory to fascist.

It is precisely this political nature that today’s hegemonic discourse of “terror” seeks to erase, and the dominant politics that are being denied belong to Muslim voices. Although the war on “terror” was a concept popularised by the US to justify the invasion of Muslim lands and the denial of Muslims’ rights after the 11 September 2011 attacks, the war on “terror” is a strategy that has also been embraced by Russia in its brutal campaign against Chechens fighting for independence, as well as Arab autocrats in their fierce crackdown against the recent wave of democratic uprisings.

The contemporary discourse of “terror” forces all patriots and good citizens to support the state’s war against a shadowy menace or risk being labelled a terrorist oneself, especially if said person has brown skin or is a Muslim in the West, or supports an Islamist politics elsewhere. There is no chance for raising any reasonable objections to this war because the terrorists are portrayed as depoliticised monsters. As writer Hamzah Saif points out, when terrorist violence is reduced to pathology, it becomes “a phenomenon as devoid of history and politics as a pernicious virus”.

The fact that those who resisted empire in the past have suddenly decided to embrace the hegemonic discourse of “terror” today raises serious questions about the current state of resistance. Even though American empire is undoubtedly crumbing, those once vying for a new hegemony are now paradoxically sustaining its power by adopting a “terror” framework that reinforces the fascist tendencies of nationalism. When the nation is militantly defined as something exclusive, while at the same time the terrorist enemy is universalised, this only ends up factionalising the global struggle to realise a more just world, and to the benefit of the neoliberal axis of elites.

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed that, “When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.” Indeed, every day human morality and ethical principles are being undermined in the name of patriotism. In the US and UK, social welfare programmes have been slashed while surveillance budgets have skyrocketed. The state no longer exists for the people, but for the preservation of the state.

In Egypt, the regime’s preference for consolidating state power through waging a war on “terror” is hardly new; however, in recent months it has reached a fever pitch. Ever since the 3 July military coup that ousted Egypt’s first ever democratically elected government, the Egyptian authorities have demonised the Muslim Brotherhood and conflated the movement with Islamic extremists in an effort to undermine the Brotherhood’s rightful claim to democratic legitimacy.

The military regime has not only designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, without any supporting evidence, but also criminalised opposition media, protests, students and university professors who merely voice support for anti-coup protests and possibly even those journalists who dare to interview Brotherhood members. The campaign is so surreal that the judiciary has even taken seriously the prospect that a puppet could be a terrorist.

In fact, Egypt’s hyper militarised war on “terror” is increasingly similar to the campaign that Israel has been waging against the Palestinians. Perhaps this has something to do with the $1.3 billion and $3 billion these two countries respectively receive in military aid from the US, aid that is secured by lobbyists and purchased through US corporations, key parts of the “terror” industry axis.

In Israel, scholar Meira Weiss argues that, “Israeli nationalism is constructed upon the body, with the body as a literal and metaphoric vehicle for collective fears, hopes and commitments.” The body becomes a metaphor for the purity of the state, justifying the cleansing of unwanted elements.

For example, after Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, the head of the Likud Party, Benjamin Netanyahu, told Ynetnews that the Islamist movement is a “cancer” in the body that “has to be contained and reduced, not expanded. Otherwise, the entire country will be in danger.” Last summer, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman threatened to occupy “all of the [Gaza] Strip and [carry] out a serious cleansing”, as reported by Al-Akhbar English.

Of course, this metaphor of the body has historical roots. The fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini once referred to the persecution of state opponents as “social hygiene, taking those individuals out of circulation like a doctor would take out a bacillus (bacteria).”

After the military coup in Egypt, the self-styled revolutionary movement Tamarod adopted a similar language. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the movement’s leaders declared their support for the military’s “war against terrorism and cleansing the land of Egypt”.

However, most “terror” metaphors in Egypt are not yet about the body, because the Muslim Brotherhood must first be established as external to the nation before arguing for its removal.

During the referendum on the new Egyptian constitution, Ismael Al-Shazly, an architect from Cairo, told the Huffington Post that he was voting “yes” to reclaim Egypt after it had been “kidnapped by the Muslim Brotherhood”. Unhappy that the party had repeatedly been victorious in democratic elections, he insisted: “We want our country back”, suggesting that members of the Brotherhood are not Egyptians. Where did he get this idea? According toTime magazine, posters advertising the vote told Egyptians that the country “was liberated on 30 June”, as if from a foreign power.

Egyptian authorities clearly aim to portray the Muslim Brotherhood as external to the nation because Egypt is now expected to undergo a “democratic transition” and yet the movement remains extremely popular. To help de-Egyptianise the Brotherhood, the authorities are not only connecting the movement with outside interests, but also, according to Reuters, determined to eradicate its regional allies. The news agency quoted one senior security official saying that: “We cannot get liberated from the terrorism of the Brotherhood in Egypt without ending it in Gaza, which lies on our borders,” of course referring to Hamas. The official added that the members of both movements “are terrorists and no country [can] develop with terrorists in or around it.”

In other words, since these movements are determined to resist the oppressive military regime in Egypt and the occupying forces in Palestine, they are considered terrorists.

Alas, even those who nobly resisted empire in the past are endorsing the “terror” industry today. The Syrian regime’s conflation of all those opposing its rule with the most extreme Islamic militants among their ranks, who many Syrians believe have hijacked their uprising, is now having tragic global consequences similar to the US war on “terror”. Fascist national movements in Europe have been using the regime’s “terror’ discourse against Syrian refugees who are fleeing the brutal civil war.

As the New York Times recently reported, Syrian refugees in Bulgaria are being viciously dehumanised by the Bulgarian nationalist party Ataka, which means attack. Leaders of the party have “denounced Syrian refugees as terrorists whom Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest nation, must expel. An Ataka member of Parliament has reviled them as ‘terrible, despicable primates’.”

The newspaper also quotes a parliamentarian for Ataka who claims that these Syrians “are not refugees [at all]; they are terrorists”. The reporter adds that: “She has also called them ‘savages’, ‘scum’, and ‘mass murderers’. She compared them to monkeys.”

Furthermore, the Syrian authorities even leaked to the international media last week that they have been meeting with Western intelligence agencies to discuss the new “terror” threat that faces both the Syrian regime and the West, thus legitimising the US-led war on “terror”.

Meanwhile, the New York Times noted in another article that the Israeli security establishment increasingly believes that the enemy of the current Syrian regime is more dangerous than the regime itself. The occupation authorities are extremely worried by the presence of Islamic fighters in the region, particularly in Syria and Iraq, and Israeli leaders are using the militant threat “to bolster their case for a long-term military presence in the [occupied] Jordan Valley”.

Are any of us really surprised?

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Report: Israeli restrictions harming Palestinian families

Palestinian girl at an Israeli checkpointPalestinian girl at an Israeli checkpoint

Israel’s regime of restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement between the Gaza Strip and West Bank is the subject of a new report by NGOs B’Tselem and HaMoked. A key element of Israel’s apartheid system, restrictions on Palestinians’ ability to travel freely and live where they choose have long affected those living under occupation.

The new report, “So near and yet so far: Implications of Israeli-Imposed Seclusion of Gaza Strip on Palestinians’ Right to Family Life”, focuses on the impact of these policies on Palestinian families, noting how, for example, “there is also absolutely no possibility for Gaza residents to receive official status in Israel or East Jerusalem and live there with a local spouse.”

Israel “prohibits all passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, except in very few exceptional humanitarian cases”, and, “as a rule” prevents Palestinians from registering “a change of address in their ID cards from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.” The consequences can be harsh: see for example, the student at Bethlehem University snatched by Israeli soldiers in 2009 and deported.

As the report makes clear:

Tens of thousands of people must live with this impossible reality in which the state infringes on the most intimate aspects of their lives…The most fundamental and apparently simple matters such as raising a family, living together with one’s partner and children and regular contact with the relatives of both partners, are rendered impossible and impracticable.

Part of a politically-motivated policy of West Bank-Gaza “separation“, Israel’s fragmentation of Palestinian land and people is yet another example of a ‘security’ façade failing to obscure systematic violations of basic rights.

The report can be read in full here.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

U.N. cancels Iran’s invitation to Syria talks

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) greets Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani during the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York in this file photo taken Sept. 26, 2013.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday withdrew an invitation to Iran to attend a Syria peace conference this week over its refusal to back calls for a transitional government in Syria, a spokesman said.

“He (Ban) continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva communique,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

“Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, (Ban) has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran’s participation,” Nesirky added.

Ban said earlier that Iran’s public statement that it did not support the 2012 Geneva deal calling for a transitional government for Syria was “not consistent” with assurances he had been given by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Syrian opposition threatened to withdraw from talks if Iran was present and the United States had demanded the invitation be retracted if Iran did not accept the communique, which called for a transitional government.

Just before the U.N. announcement, Iran’s U.N. envoy Mohammad Khazaee reaffirmed his government’s rejection of the communique adopted in Geneva in June 2012.

“Iran has always been supportive of finding a political solution for this crisis,” Khazaee said in a statement.

“However the Islamic Republic of Iran does not accept any preconditions for its participation in Geneva II conference.

“If the participation of Iran is conditioned to accept Geneva I communique, Iran will not participate in Geneva II,” he said.

(Source / 20.01.2014)

Brotherhood in the Quran and Sunnah

 

Quran with Light Blue Background

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Allah the Exalted said:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

The believers are but brothers, so make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.

Surah Al-Hujurat 49:10

And Allah said:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

Hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. Remember the favor of Allah upon you, when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became brothers by His favor. You were on the edge of a pit of the Fire and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.

Surah Ali Imran 3:103

And Allah said:

يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

They say: Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts any resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, You are Kind and Merciful.

Surah Al-Hashr 59:10

And Allah said:

فَإِن تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَنُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

If they repent, establish prayer, and give charity, then they are your brothers in religion. We detail the verses for people who know.

Surah At-Tawba 9:11

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ أَوْ قَالَ لِجَارِهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 13, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Abu Musa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

الْمُؤْمِنُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ كَالْبُنْيَانِ يَشُدُّ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا

The believers are like a structure, each supporting the other.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2585, Grade: Sahih

An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَثَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي تَوَادِّهِمْ وَتَرَاحُمِهِمْ وَتَعَاطُفِهِمْ مَثَلُ الْجَسَدِ إِذَا اشْتَكَى مِنْهُ عُضْوٌ تَدَاعَى لَهُ سَائِرُ الْجَسَدِ بِالسَّهَرِ وَالْحُمَّى

The example of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2586, Grade: Sahih

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا وَلَا يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلَاثٍ

Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other. Rather, be servants of Allah as brothers. It is not lawful for a Muslim to abandon his brother for more than three days.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2559, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الْحَدِيثِ وَلَا تَحَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَنَافَسُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا

Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the most false of speech. Do not seek out faults, do not spy on each other, do not contend with each other, do not envy each other, do not hate each other, and do turn away from each other. Rather, be servants of Allah as brothers.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2563, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا تَحَاسَدُوا وَلَا تَنَاجَشُوا وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَلَا يَبِعْ بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَى بَيْعِ بَعْضٍ وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا الْمُسْلِمُ أَخُو الْمُسْلِمِ لَا يَظْلِمُهُ وَلَا يَخْذُلُهُ وَلَا يَحْقِرُهُ التَّقْوَى هَاهُنَا

Do not envy each other, do not outbid each other, do not hate each other, do not turn away from each other, and do not outsell each other. Rather, be servants of Allah as brothers. The Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. He does not wrong him or humiliate him or look down upon him. Righteousness is here.

The Prophet pointed to his chest three times, then he said:

بِحَسْبِ امْرِئٍ مِنْ الشَّرِّ أَنْ يَحْقِرَ أَخَاهُ الْمُسْلِمَ كُلُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ دَمُهُ وَمَالُهُ وَعِرْضُهُ

It is sufficient evil for a person to look down upon his brother Muslim. All of the Muslim is sacred to another Muslim: his life, his wealth, and his honor.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2564, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ نَفَّسَ عَنْ مُؤْمِنٍ كُرْبَةً مِنْ كُرَبِ الدُّنْيَا نَفَّسَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ كُرْبَةً مِنْ كُرَبِ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَمَنْ يَسَّرَ عَلَى مُعْسِرٍ يَسَّرَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمَنْ سَتَرَ مُسْلِمًا سَتَرَهُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ فِي عَوْنِ الْعَبْدِ مَا كَانَ الْعَبْدُ فِي عَوْنِ أَخِيهِ

He who relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Judgment. He who makes easy what is difficult, Allah will make it easy for him in the world and the Hereafter. He who conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in the world and the Hereafter, for Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2699, Grade: Sahih

Abu Ad-Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَدْعُو لأَخِيهِ بِظَهْرِ الْغَيْبِ إِلاَّ قَالَ الْمَلَكُ وَلَكَ بِمِثْلٍ

There is no Muslim servant who supplicates for his brother behind his back except that the angel says: For you the same.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2732, Grade: Sahih

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

انْصُرْ أَخَاكَ ظَالِمًا أَوْ مَظْلُومًا‏

Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.

It was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said:

تَأْخُذُ فَوْقَ يَدَيْهِ

By seizing his hand.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 2312, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Abu Khirash reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ هَجَرَ أَخَاهُ سَنَةً فَهُوَ كَسَفْكِ دَمِهِ

He who abandons his brother for a year is as if he has shed his blood.

Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4915, Grade: Sahih

Imran ibn Hussein reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ نَصَرَ أَخَاهُ بِالْغَيْبِ نَصَرَهُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ

Whoever supports his brother in private, then Allah will support him in this life and in the Hereafter.

Source: Mu’jam Al-Kabeer 14771, Grade: Sahih

Abu Ad-Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ رَدَّ عَنْ عِرْضِ أَخِيهِ رَدَّ اللَّهُ عَنْ وَجْهِهِ النَّارَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

Whoever defends the honor of his brother, then Allah will protect his face from the Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1931, Grade: Hasan

Wathila ibn Al-Asqa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا تُظْهِرْ الشَّمَاتَةَ لِأَخِيكَ فَيَرْحَمَهُ اللَّهُ وَيَبْتَلِيكَ

Do not rejoice over the misfortune of your brother, lest Allah have mercy upon him and subject you to trials.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2506, Grade: Hasan

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

الْمُؤْمِنُ مَرْآةُ أَخِيهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُ أَخُو الْمُؤْمِنِ يَكُفُّ عَلَيْهِ ضَيْعَتَهُ وَيَحُوطُهُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ

The believer is a mirror to his faithful brother. He protects him against loss and defends him behind his back.

Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 239, Grade: Hasan

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ رُوحَ الْمُؤْمِنَيْنِ لَيَلْتَقِيَانِ فِي مَسِيرَةِ يَوْمٍ وَمَا رَأَى أَحَدُهُمَا صَاحِبَهُ

Verily, the spirits of two believers will meet throughout the day, even if they do not see each other.

Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 261, Grade: Hasan

Ibn Abu Mulaika reported: Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

لَا يَحِلُّ لِامْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ سَمِعَ مِنْ أَخِيهِ كَلِمَةً أَنْ يَظُنَّ بِهَا سُوءًا وَهُوَ يَجِدُ لَهَا فِي شَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ مَصْدَرًا

It is not lawful for a Muslim who hears a word from his brother to suspect him of evil when he can find something good about it.

Source: At-Tamheed 18/20

Ja’far ibn Muhammad said:

إِذَا بَلَغَكَ عَنْ أَخِيكَ الشَّيْءُ تُنْكِرُهُ فَالْتَمِسْ لَهُ عُذْرًا وَاحِدًا إِلَى سَبْعِينَ عُذْرًا فَإِنْ أَصَبْتَهُ وَإِلا قُلْ لَعَلَّ لَهُ عُذْرًا لا أَعْرِفُهُ

If you hear something from your brother that you reject, then make an excuse for him up to seventy excuses. If you cannot do it, then say: Perhaps he has an excuse I do not know.

Source: Shu’b Al-Iman 7853

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

(Source / 20.01.2014)