Syrian Coalition: Formation Of A Transitional Governing Body Is The Sole Guarantor Of The Implementation Of All Geneva I Terms

Louay Safi, spokesman for the Syrian Coalition, said that the regime’s evasion of discussion of the transition process is an attempt to disavow all terms of Geneva I as the forming of a transitional ruling body is the sole guarantor for the application of all of the terms agreed upon by the international community.” Safi also stresses that the Assad regime is trying to buy time at the expense of the blood of Syrian people,” adding that the regime’s delegation is following Assad’s rule, which is: Go on with lies until they believe you.” Faisal al-Miqdad, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Assad regime, said that “the Syrian crisis cannot be solved at Geneva II, just as it could not be solved at Geneva I.” Safi also condemned the regime’s delegation statement which accused the Syrian people of nourishing terrorism and of being a partner of ISIS. Moreover, Safi criticized the regime’s ignoring of sectarian like the terrorists militias of Hezbollah and Abu Fadl Al Abbas and the other militias, and said that this is typical of a criminal regime that believes only in a military solution and does not seriously seek any political solution. Safi cited a report published by Human Rights Watch today as an example of the regime’s lies and pretense. The 38-page report confirms that the Assad regime has been deliberately and systematically razing homes, buildings and entire rebel-held neighborhoods to the ground with bulldozers and explosives in Hama and Damascus between the years 2012 and 2013.  Safi described the claims of the Assad regime that it protects minorities in Syria as “unrealistic as was revealed by the systematic killing of civilians in areas with Turkmen minority, namely in Mitras and Baida in Tartus province. Furthermore, Safi concluded that “everyone should know that there are not any minorities in Syria, and this terms was forged by the Assad regime and used it as a political scarecrow to protect his dictatorship.” The Syrian Coalition said in a statement released that “in light of yet more evidence the Damascus regime is enacting a policy of intentionally targeting civilians, the Syrian Coalition reiterates its call to try those responsible in front of the international criminal court.” The statement also said that “the ongoing litany of abuse demonstrates very clearly why the Assad regime must step aside and allow the emergence of a free Syria. The desperate attempts of a four-decade old regime to cling to power are the root cause of the violence engulfing the country.
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 30.01.2014)

Israel destroys Palestinian village

Israeli forces have razed down an entire Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.

According to reports, the demolition took place in the village of Khirbat Jamal early on Thursday.

Over a dozen families living in the area have been displaced after Israeli bulldozers destroyed their homes.

The Israeli military is preventing human rights activists from visiting the area and helping the villagers.

Demolitions are commonplace in the Jordan Valley as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its policy of settlement expansion in the area. Over 90 percent of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control.

On January 9, Israeli military forces backed by bulldozers entered the village of Khirbet Ein Karzaliyah and destroyed the entire village, leaving over two dozen locals homeless.

In October last year, Israeli bulldozers backed by military jeeps entered the village of Makhool north of the Jordan Valley and destroyed the village.

Israel has already been under fire for demolishing Palestinian homes. Israeli authorities claim they destroy houses which have been built without permission.

Rights activists, however, reject the claims, saying the demolitions are part of an ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Tunisian Minister of Tourism resigns from the new government after being accused of ‘normalization with Israel’

 

Tunisian flagImmediately after been sworn in before the interim Tunisian President Moncef el-Marzouki, on Wednesday, Ms Karbul announced that had submitted her resignation to the prime minister who ‘will rightly consider whether to accepting or reject it’

Amal Karbul, the minister of tourism in the new Tunisian government, headed by Mehdi Gomaa, has resigned from the government before officially starting her new role after being accused of “normalization with Israel.”

Immediately after been sworn in before the interim Tunisian President Moncef el-Marzouki, on Wednesday, Ms Karbul announced that had submitted her resignation to the prime minister who “will rightly consider whether to accepting or reject it.”

In a post published on her Facebook page Karbul called on the new head of the Tunisian government to “accept her resignation in case the accusations made against her in dealing with the Zionist entity proved to be correct.”

The move came after a number of members of the Constituent Assembly accused the new minister, on Wednesday, of “normalization with Israel.” She had visited Israel in 2006.

These accusations caused an embarrassment for Mehdi Gomaa, who met with his minister then defended saying, “I spoke with the Minister of Tourism, who actually visited Israel in 2006 while participating in a UN program for young Palestinians. She stayed one day in Israel and being and Arab and Muslim was subjected to interrogation, which lasted for six hours at Tel Aviv airport. This led to her refusal of entry.”

Despite this defence, many of the Constituent Assembly’s members expressed their rejection of the minister, to the extent that one of them did not hesitate to tell her, “If it has been proven that you visited Israel, just get your belongings and leave this government.”

It is noteworthy that the government of Mehdi Gomaa, 51-year-old, whose members were sworn in on Wednesday before the interim President Marzouki won the confidence of the Constituent Assembly members after a stormy session marked by many accusations and criticisms.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Medical Ethics in Islam

In our lives, we often face difficult decisions. Sometimes these decisions are a matter of life and death. Should I donate a kidney so that another may live? Should I turn off life support for my brain-dead child? Should I mercifully end the suffering of my terminally ill, elderly mother? If I am pregnant with quintuplets, should I abort one or more so that the others have a better chance of surviving? If I face infertility, how far should I go in treatment so that I might, Allah-willing, have a child? As medical treatment continues to expand and advance, more ethical questions come up.

For guidance on such matters, Muslims turn first to the Qur’an. Allah gives us general guidelines to follow, that are constant and timeless.

The Saving of Life

“…We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people….” (Qur’an 5:32)

Life and Death is in Allah’s Hands

“Blessed be He in whose hands is the Dominion, and he has Power over all things. He who created death and life that He may test which of you are best in deed, and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Quran 67: 1-2)

“No soul can die except by Allah’s permission.” (Quran 3:185)

Human Beings Should Not “Play God”

“Does not man see that it is We who created him from sperm. Yet behold! He stands as an open adversary! And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own creation. He says who can give life to (dry) bones and decomposed ones? Say, ‘He will give them life who created them for the first time, for He is versed in every kind of creation.'” (Quran 36: 77-79)

Abortion

“Kill not your children on a plea of want. We will provide sustenance for you and for them. Come not near shameful deeds whether open or secret. Take not life which God has made sacred except by way of justice and law. Thus He commands you that you may learn wisdom.” (6:151)

“Kill not your children for fear of want. We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.” (17:31)

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Norway pension fund bans Israeli occupation-profiteers after lies exposed

Construction site of Africa Israel housing project in the Gilo settlement, occupied east Jerusalem, 28 August 2013.

The Norwegian government has once again excluded two Israeli occupation-profiteering firms from eligibility to be included in the portfolio of the Nordic nation’s state pension fund.

The decision is based in part on evidence published by The Electronic Intifada last year that the firms were lying about their activities.

Norway’s finance ministry announced today that it accepted a recommendation from the pension fund’s ethics council to “exclude the companies Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from the Fund due to contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem.”

Lies exposed

The two companies were previously excluded from the pension fund between August 2010 and August 2013 for similar activities.

Last August, however, the Norwegian government ended the exclusion based on the companies’ assurances that they had ended their illegal activities.

However evidence – including videos, photos and documents – uncovered by Who Profitsand Ta’ayush and published by The Electronic Intifada last August proved that Africa Israel was lying and was still involved in settlement construction.

Danya Cebus is a subsidiary of Africa Israel.

Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof communicated this evidence to the Norwegian pension fund’s ethics council, which assured her it would be reviewed.

It is based on this review that the council once again recommended that the Israeli firms be excluded and today the government acted.

In addition, the Israeli settlement builder Shikun & Binui, Ltd. has been excluded by the Norwegian pension fund since May 2012.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Blast hits police station in Alexandria

Riot police stand guard in front of the damaged Cairo Security Directorate building, which includes police and state security, after a bomb attack in downtown Cairo, January 24, 2014.

A bomb exploded outside a police station in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Thursday amid clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces.

The director of security in Alexandria said the blast was caused by an improvised explosion device in front of the police station. He said the explosion did not result in any injures.

Meanwhile, a man was killed on Thursday during a protest staged by the Muslim Brotherhood following the funeral of a woman who was reportedly killed the previous day.

The military-backed authorities have dealt with Muslim Brotherhood-led protests with heavy hand since the ouster of former President Mohammad Mursi On July 3, 2013.

More than 1,000 people are killed daily in Egypt’s ongoing violent clashes.  The government says it is fighting terrorism, a charge often leveled at those opposed to the military rule.

Several blasts also occurred outside four police stations on the third anniversary on the Jan. 25 revolution, when Islamists took to the streets in heavy nationwide protests, in which at least 50 were killed.

This week a senior interior ministry officer was assassinated in Cairo and a policeman was shot dead during an attack on a church in Cairo.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Welcome to Afghanistan, drone-strike capital of the world

Afghan National Army Soldier [Related Image]
An Afghan National Army soldier in Kabul.

Mention Afghanistan and most people think of the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, caves, drones, dust, and burkas. It’s a country few of us have a relationship with, even though our government has been at war with it three times, right now being the third and longest modern-day occupation for Britain to date. A total of 134,780 British troops have lived and patrolled here and 446 have died. British Reaper drone operators have launched at least 299 strikes, mostly from Creech US airbase just outside Las Vegas, but since April 2013 from British soil at RAF Waddington. The official Ministry of Defence line is that four civilians have been killed by British drones, but they refuse to release the names or numbers of those they have actually killed.

To date, the whole operation has cost us $60 billion – $25 million per day, or $3,000 per household since it began. It’s supposedly coming to an end, but with territorial, aerial and economic sovereignty off the table when NATO forces scale back (let’s not call it a withdrawal: the US wants 10,000 British and US Special Forces to remain), the idea of freedom is as cheap and disposable as the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) newspapers regularly dropped all over Kabul, which locals eagerly use for kindling for wood stoves (the main source of heating here) and chip paper.

Two million people have been killed in 40 years of constant war. Generations have grown up knowing nothing else. Poverty is extreme. Unemployment stagnates at an unofficial 60 per cent (and this is just for men, as women are not considered part of the workforce) and 90 per cent of all available work is in the casual sector: it’s men waiting at bridges to be picked up for construction work, cart pushers renting their backbreaking labour to market traders, women taking tailoring and embroidery into their homes, children selling incense blessings and chewing gum on the streets. Wages range from $1to $5 a day. Half a million remain refugees in their own country, defined as internally displaced. Those in Kabul live in old abandoned lots, on wasteland, opposite gleaming new hotels or an old amusement park. The camps are a full-on dystopia of plastic, sack cloth and mud shelters with open sewers. Children’s faces are tired and heat-scorched from wood fires. Intermittent aid drops have families scrambling for what they can under the machine-gun gaze of cops who steal their share with impunity. Above it all drift US surveillance blimps, data-mining this ‘adversary city’ for ‘advanced target acquisition’; scanning, ready to activate a ‘compressed kill chain’, as the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency defines it. A push of a button in a bunker can execute a person, or several, in seconds.

Afghanistan is the drone-strike and landmine capital of the world. There are 10 million landmines still littered around the country – one for every three people here. The US has 200 declared drones, Britain 10. It’s a laboratory for robo-war and socio-political engineering. Successive invasions, war lords, mafias and Taliban groups have all manipulated the four main different ethnic sects – Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek and Pashtun – against one another, using classic divide-and-rule tactics.

In the midst of this, in District 4, is a simple house with makeshift classrooms and workshops, home to seven young men, the core group of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (APV) and their mentor and group founder Hakim – a humble Ghandi and Martin Luther King-inspired doctor from Singapore gone native after 10 years of living here. In response to the brutal social engineering from above, Hakim and the volunteers are creating a kind of social engineering from below. The group consciously seeks to bring different ethnic groups together. It has a microfinance duvet-making project that employs poor women from different ethnic backgrounds to work together. The duvets are distributed freely to the poor, disabled and displaced

APV also runs a project for street kids, sending caseworkers to make contact with them and their families and giving them rice and cooking oil in exchange for allowing their children to come and receive free maths, literacy and English lessons.

The volunteers have harrowing pasts. Abdullhai, now 18, was forced to flee his village in Bamiyan when he was just five after the Taliban invaded. His older brother carried him on his back across mountains for weeks to a refugee camp where upon arriving he was apparently frozen stiff. He had to be suspended over a fire for two weeks to recover. When their mother joined them, she told them that their father had been murdered by the Taliban. Roz Mohammed, a smiley 21-year-old Pashtun from Wardak, lost his brother-in-law to a drone strike. US forces claimed he had been Taliban – he wasn’t. When Roz Mohammed’s nephew asked what had happened to his father, his mother said, ‘Your father was killed by a robot.’

Under this vertical oppression, from the government, from warlords, from occupation forces, from machines that kill, from a ruling class and aid industry that is often divorced from the poorest and most exploited, the idea of horizontal organizing from the grassroots up is rare and radical. The APV are deeply pacifist; here in Afghanistan, where violence is the dominant language, rejecting revenge and sectarianism and creating a safe space – for men and women – in one of the most violent cities in the world is revolutionary.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Five years on: Gaza’s children remain targets

Gazans still await justice for the overwhelming human loss they suffered in the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Gazan children have suffered severely from Israeli attacks
Hala Ahmad Salman Abu Sabikha, 2, was killed in her yard when an Israeli tank targeted her home in Al-Mughazi refugee camp, central Gaza, on December 24, 2013. Israeli soldiers shot Adnan Abu Khater, 16, in the leg with live ammunition on January 2, 2014, and he died the following day. Mohammad Rafiq Shinbari, 17, was shot and wounded in the leg with live ammunition on December 15.

These were cases of the recent cross-bodrer violence which resulted in fatalities and injuries to children.

It has been five years since Operation Cast Lead, a 22-day Israeli military offensive in Gaza which took place between December 27 and January 18, 2008 and claimed the lives of at least 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 350 Palestinian children.

Despite damning evidence of war crimes, the US government played a role in blocking international efforts to hold Israel accountable for serious breaches of international law. The resulting impunity has enabled Israel to continue its oppressive policies in Gaza where children undoubtedly remain targets.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched an intensive aerial and naval bombing campaign throughout the Gaza Strip. A large-scale ground invasion followed the week after. The onslaught was arguably Israel’s boldest military operation since the 2006 Lebanon war when it inflicted deliberate destruction to civilian infrastructure in Beirut’s Dahiya neighbourhood, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Following the 2006 war, Major General Gadi Eisenkot stated: “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on.” He added: “These are not civilian villages, they are military bases.”

Two years later, Israeli military leaders put the “Dahiya doctrine” into action in the Gaza Strip by applying disproportionate force to inflict great damage to civilian infrastructure and neighbourhoods.

The devastating impact on children in Gaza was immediate. On December 29, 2008, five girls from the Balousha family (aged 4 – 17) were killed in their home when Israeli airstrikes targeted a nearby mosque in the densely populated Jabaliya refugee camp in North Gaza. On the same day in Rafah, the al-Absi family lost three sons (aged 4, 12, and 14) when their home was the target of an Israeli airstrike. These are only a few examples.

Al Jazeera World – Gaza Lives On

Human rights groups, including Defence for Children International Palestine, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, have documented cases of children killed and maimed in unlawful attacks; the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as schools and water and sanitation networks; the use of children as human shields; the unlawful use of white phosphorous in populated areas; and the arbitrary detention of children.

Israeli forces killed at least 26 children in or near schools, completely destroyed 18 schools, and damaged 260 others during the military operation.

Following the attacks, the UN Human Rights Council established a fact-finding mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Their mandate was “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” that may have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009. Although international law requires states to investigate war crime allegations, Israeli authorities refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The mission’s report, published in September 2009, found evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by both the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups. Known as the “Goldstone Report”, it was overwhelmingly endorsed by the UN General Assembly on November 5, 2009, with 114 states voting in favour of a resolution demanding that Israel and the Palestinians undertake “independent, credible investigations” into alleged war crimes. The resolution also urged the Security Council to take action on the report’s recommendations, primarily by referring cases to the International Criminal Court.

Unsurprisingly, the US was one of 18 countries to vote against the resolution. The Obama administration then employed its diplomatic power to mitigate the impact of the Goldstone Report, and also blocked any further potential progress through the Security Council.

Since Israeli officials announced a unilateral ceasefire, ending Operation Cast Lead just over five years ago, Israel has unceasingly continued policies that amount to collective punishment of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, a violation of international humanitarian law. Around 51 percent of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents are under the age of 18, and almost 1.2 million people in Gaza receive humanitarian assistance.

Operation Cast Lead was by no means an isolated incident, as the ceasefire did not end Israel’s military violence against children. The last major Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, Operation Pillar of Defence, occurred in November 2012, and resulted in more than 30 Palestinian children killed.

Israeli leaders have demonstrated they are unwilling to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, and effective way and hold perpetrators accountable. The US government’s supposed “unbreakable bond” with Israel has increasingly contributed to a context of seemingly perpetual impunity. If the US and Israel are truly the “closest of friends”, US leadership should not let Israeli officials escape reality.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Yassine Ayari Plans to Return to Tunisia to Challenge Prison Sentence

 

Yassine Ayari.

Blogger Yassine Ayari will return to Tunisia next Friday to appeal a six-month prison sentence issued after he was found guilty of calling for the murder of leftist political analyst Mondher Thabet in a Facebook post.

The blogger claimed that Thabet represents “the remnants” of the former Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali government and that he should be held accountable, along with judges and media personnel he also believes to be corrupt.

The last time Ayari appeared in court was on December 27, 2013. The sentence was issued Monday.

Ahmed Mselmi, Ayari’s lawyer, told Tunisia Live that his client’s sentence did not require him to be imprisoned immediately, and confirmed that Ayari would be returning from France next week.

Ayari, in a Facebook post Wednesday, announced his planned return to Tunisia from Paris, where he works as a computer engineer.

In the post, he referred to Thabet, along with several other officials, as “parliamentarians of Ben Ali.” Thabet served in the Chamber of Advisors, a now-dissolved body functioning as the upper chamber of parliament under Ben Ali.

The post also references the RCD party of Ben Ali and November 7, 1987, the day Ben Ali took office.

“Members of the RCD, corrupt judges, dirty unionists, and media personnel of November 7: are all dogs, and the people’s justice should have reached them by scraping them off or punishing on January 14,” Ayari wrote, referring to the date of the 2011 revolution.

Ayari added that he has been ready to go to prison since deciding to criticize the Ben Ali regime 2007.

He told Tunisia Live Monday that his July 2013 Facebook post “wasn’t personally attacking” Thabet, but using him as an example of “a corrupt politician.” He said the post was not a call to kill anyone.

Ayari was convicted under Articles 50 and 51 of Decree 115 of the post-revolutionary press code issued in February 2011.

(Source / 30.01.2014)

Opinion: Assad’s regime showed its true face in Geneva

Question: What do you do with your detainees? What does the Syrian government do with its detainees?

Answer: Sorry, I didn’t hear you properly.

Question: What do you do with your detainees? Do they end up looking like emaciated Belsen [Nazi concentration camp] victims? Do you gouge out their eyes and eventually kill them?

Answer: We have been trying in Syria to stop this terrorism coming to our country, and we have been trying to convince the international community that it is very important to have the will to stop this . . . extremist thinking.

There’s no need to go through the rest of the interview that Britain’s Sky News conducted with Bouthaina Shaaban, the Syrian president’s advisor. During the interview, journalist Anna Botting put firm questions to Shaaban about the regime’s actions and did not tolerate her attempts to evade answering them.

Shaaban literally repeated the same statements during the several interviews she gave while participating in the Geneva talks on Syria. Her statements didn’t answer the question.

All the murder and terror is the responsibility of the gunmen and terrorists, and the motive is a massive colonial conspiracy that aims to harm Syria, Shaaban claims.

She’s the same Bouthaina Shaaban who weeks ago told us that the chemical massacre in Damascus was committed by the Syrian opposition, that it was also the opposition who transferred men, women and children from Latakia’s towns to the outskirts of Damascus to poison them with gas.

There’s no use trying to find the funny side or even discussing this kind of logic. Let’s go back to the question. What does the Syrian regime do with its detainees? Isn’t this the key question which all the facts have revolved around for years now?

The answer used to be whispered to us in stories we heard frequently. Then we heard them via diaries and testimonies. After the revolution came leaked footage and videos. We finally got the answer from more than 55,000 documents on 11,000 victims, some of which were leaked by one of the jailors.

We then understood what it means for a person to be a detainee of the Syrian regime. Starvation, gouged-out eyes, and death through the worst methods of torture, turning the victims into just another number buried far away without anyone’s knowledge.

Syrians, as citizens or media workers, cannot ask their regime and its representatives questions like those put to Bouthaina Shaaban. Independent media is forbidden in Syria. But what the Syrians can’t do in their own country, they did at Geneva.

They protested in front of the hotel where the Syrian delegation was staying, and they were not subject to gunfire or detention from the security forces. They pursued the regime officials and held their microphones in front of them, asking them about torture and [the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group] the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The Syrian information minister and the rest of the delegation members had no other choice other than to swiftly walk away and hide in their car to avoid the questions. Regime supporters and some of its media thugs were there too, and they attempted to do what they do best: beating up the regime’s opponents. Not only that, but they also mocked the shelling of some Syrian areas with explosive barrels.

Despite that, the Syrian regime delegation in Geneva was forced to confront questions, criticism, protests and cameras. In Geneva, they could not prevent the media from carrying out its job and could not prevent cameras from rolling. They could not arrest journalists or pluck out their eyes.

In Geneva, a confrontation between the Syrian regime and the Syrian media happened for the first time before the western media. It is in Geneva that the Syrian regime was subject to the pure gaze of public opinion for the first time. The regime seemed fragile and incapable of speaking. It appeared weak and unconvincing.

The regime’s fall in Geneva will pave the way for its fall in Damascus.

(Source / 30.01.2014)