Israeli drone fires at Syrian Army in the Golan Heights

Syrian reconnaissance outposts observed an Israeli drone flying high above the occupied Golan Heights at around noon today.

The drone later launched two missiles towards a government-held checkpoint near Samadaniyah al-Sharqi, a town in the Quneitra countryside.

The missiles struck military positions controlled by the pro-government National Defence Forces’ (NDF) Golan Regiment; fortunately for the Syrian troops, no casualties were inflicted upon them.

Though the commander-in-chief of the NDF’s Golan regiment, Majd Hemoud, was only a few hundred meters away from where the bombs landed, the NDF did not react to the aggression.

Israel and Syria remain in a technical state of war following three major wars during which Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria.

(Source / 28.07.2016)

Raising the Palestinian cause at the DNC

“The issue is getting more media exposure, more people are aware … we are on the brink of changing … policy stands.”

A delegate holds a sign reading ‘I support Palestinian Human Rights’ at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Eva Putzova held a banner with a simple message just outside the Democratic National Convention (DNC) floor on Tuesday: “I support Palestinian rights.”

“I think it’s time that Democratic candidates – Hillary, Bernie or anybody else – start taking the issue seriously and start a real national conversation and get behind all human rights, including Palestinian rights,” said Putzova, a city council member from Flagstaff, Arizona.

She was among many pro-Palestine activists at the DNC this week who came out in a show of force unprecedented at other political conventions. They marched and rallied, held talks and town halls, carried signs and, at one point, raised a Palestinian flag on the convention floor.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/07/raising-palestinian-dnc-160728074650630.html

“The issue is getting more media exposure, more people are aware,” Putzova said. “I think we are on the brink of changing the policy stands of the US, but it will take all of us to push the political elite. I think [Palestinians are] a community that has been marginalised for so long.”

An issue that was once sidelined even in progressive circles, Palestine was pushed to the forefront of the electoral campaign this year, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders showing that policy change on a seemingly intractable conflict is possible.

In a debate last April, he pushed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to call the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza “disproportionate”. He said the US and Israel need “to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity” and that the US “has to play an even-handed role”. Sanders, however, was also criticised for not denouncing Israel more forcefully, and for the ousting of his campaign’s Jewish outreach director, who slammed Israel’s prime minister in a Facebook post.

A month later, Sanders assigned James Zogby, an advocate for Palestinian rights, and four others, including one of two Muslim congressmen, to the platform-writing committee, signalling his attempt to revise the party’s long-standing policy that favoured Israel.

“It took the work of a mass movement and a courageous person like Bernie Sanders, because if Bernie hadn’t elevated it, it wouldn’t have happened,” said Zogby, also President of the Arab American Institute, in a talk attended by pro-Palestine supporters in Philadelphia. “He gave us a qualitative boost forward.”

READ MORE: Muslims at the DNC – Taking a stand against Islamophobia

What’s on the platform?

On the DNC sidelines, pro-Palestine supporters discussed how the conflict with the Israelis was playing out on the domestic policy platform.

But in stark contrast to public support and activism, the party’s platform, which now supports a $15 minimum wage and Wall Street reform, did not include references to the Israeli occupation and its settlements.

Zogby said Clinton supporters cut out these references, fearing retribution from billionaire mogul and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.  On an official level, Clinton’s backers said the call for negotiations for a two-state solution in the party’s platform was sufficient.

Going into the platform-writing committee, Zogby said he and other Sanders delegates were expecting to discuss removing a reference to Jerusalem being the “undivided capital” of Israel, and opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“We wanted to strike the BDS line, we wanted to strike out a line on Jerusalem,” said Zogby, who is also on the DNC’s executive committee. “I thought that would be the fight. I had no idea the fight would end up being over occupation and settlements.”

They lost on all counts, and pro-Clinton supporters said they couldn’t change the language. “Here’s what they told me: ‘We can’t do it because Adelson will come out against us,'” Zogby said. “He will come after you no matter what you do. The people who like [Adelson] won’t vote for you.”

READ MORE: Who is Sheldon Adelson and can he sway the US election?

The platform committee discussions leading up to the DNC also spurred controversy, as civil rights activist and scholar Cornel West made an impassioned appeal to change the language to include “an end to occupation and illegal settlements”.

He called Palestine a “Vietnam War” issue for young Americans, and likened the party’s indifference to the conflict to the same apathy to “these Negroes” in the Jim Crow era.

Despite the fact that the resolution was voted down, some believe that the discourse on Palestine has shifted.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/07/raising-palestinian-dnc-160728074650630.html

For the first time, the platform reflected the right of Palestinians to “independence, sovereignty, and dignity” in addition to Israel’s security. In a recent poll (PDF) of American attitudes on the conflict, 49 percent of Democrats said they recommended economic sanctions or other more serious action to counter settlement construction.

A changing conversation

“The conversation has improved a lot … it is broader and more inclusive,” said Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, another Sanders pick on the DNC platform committee. “Over the past few years, members of Congress have gone to the Holy Land, not only to Israel, but also to Palestine. The perspective is changing, and it’s a good time to continue the work that you’re doing.”

Palestine supporters are banking on the presence of many activists and progressives in the city, in part because of Sanders’ candidacy, to expand and change the debate on the conflict.

They are also aware that the share of younger Americans sympathising with the Palestinian cause has risen significantly in recent years – from 9 percent in 2006 to 20 percent in July 2014, and finally to 27 percent today.

“We have seen some fairly remarkable changes in the landscape of how the issue of Palestine and Israel is being addressed – both in the news media and particularly within progressive circles,” said Mike Merryman Lotze, the American Friends Service Committee’s (also known as the Quakers) Palestine-Israel programme director.

“If we look back where the conversation was 15 years ago today, even really five years ago, we have to recognise that we are now in a fundamentally different place,” he said.

“That marks a shift … and that conversation has been pushed by the grassroots progressive movement.”

READ MORE: US Democratic Party – Closer to justice on Palestine?

(Source / 28.07.2016)

Iraqi envoy quit over failure to prevent IS ‘tragedies’

The Iraqi ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, looks on during a ceremony at the Iraqi Consular Section in Washington on March 16, 2015, to repatriate more than 60 Iraqi cultural items that had been smuggled into the United States

The rumor mill has been churning steadily ever since Baghdad’s man in Washington decided to call it quits a couple of months ago.

Did he rub someone the wrong way? Is he gunning for higher office?

In an exclusive exit interview this week with Al-Monitor, Lukman Faily insisted the truth is quite different: He’s become convinced that the superficiality of the US-Iraqi relationship is one of the reasons the Islamic State (IS) was allowed to run rampant for as long as it did. And he doesn’t think he can change things from the inside.

“One of the key reasons I’m leaving the service … is our inability to work with each other enough to prevent the tragedies that took place,” Faily told Al-Monitor. “And we had to pay the casualties for it.”

To prevent that from happening again, Faily plans to continue shuttling between the two countries as he leverages his unique talents and experience to help create a true strategic partnership between the two countries. He’s staying tight-lipped for now about the specifics, but said he’d be announcing “very soon” a new venture that he promised will prove “very exciting, and I hope very productive.”

“I don’t want to get out of the seat,” Faily said. “I want to change the chair.”

With IS on the defensive throughout Iraq, Faily credited President Barack Obama’s administration for finally waking up to the threat. But Faily said his government’s increasingly dire warnings went unheeded for almost a year, starting with his visit along with then-Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon in August 2013.

“We said, ‘We need you to hit [IS] camps.’ The prime minister [Nouri al-Maliki] came here [in October 2013] and said it again,” Faily said. Even after Mosul fell to IS in June 2014, “We kept saying it.”

Without recrimination and without naming names, Faily coolly described a trio of factors he blames for the slow response: The United States first viewed IS as an Iraqi domestic problem rather than a global geopolitical threat (Obama’s infamous jayvee team put-down); cuts to the US Embassy staff in Baghdad went too deep; and Obama’s White House had a “mental block” when it came to seeing Iraq as a “project to invest in.” And Faily bluntly confirmed a long-lasting suspicion that the United States had made it clear that it would not act until Maliki was on his way out the door.

“It gave us a clear example that there is what you might call conditionality in this global fight against [IS],” Faily said. “Here the issue is not just playing with politics, but playing with people’s lives.”

A former tech sector manager and longtime Saddam Hussein opponent, Faily served as ambassador to Japan for three years before taking his Washington posting in 2013. He said he had little interest in the ritzy lifestyle, and met with Al-Monitor in a deserted hotel hallway in between visits to the State Department and the Aspen Security Forum.

“I’m not seeking high office in any way, shape or form. That doesn’t make me tick,” Faily said in a wide-ranging, hourlong interview. “But making people aware of the challenges — that’s what I want to contribute.”

US-Iraqi relations, he said, are too dependent on individual relationships that don’t allow for follow-through on big decisions. He sees himself as ideally suited to help build more sustainable bridges between the two countries.

“The Americans like one-on-one. It’s easier, I get that. But it doesn’t help us in Iraq. It doesn’t help the team orientation we need,” he said. “There are tons of opportunities that were lost because we did not work as a team, on both sides.”

Faily remains convinced that post-Saddam Iraq has a chance, with US help, to build a new, more stable society. But the project is a long-term challenge, he warned, and cannot succeed without an equivalent investment.

“We don’t want our children and our grandchildren to face the kind of challenge we have, which is an identity challenge, which is a generational challenge, which is an Arab Spring challenge and so on. That’s what I’m working on. Not just the now,” he said.

A certain culture “has been ingrained in our DNA,” he said. “Such as, you need to be a Kurd, you need to be a Sunni, you need to be X, Y, Z to get this position. That’s the wrong way of building a state.”

What Iraq desperately needs, he said, are founding fathers — selfless men and women who can see beyond their narrow “ism” and their next election and create a new society.

After the state collapsed following the US invasion in 2003, he said, “a new social contract had to be defined between the state and its citizens.”

“We still don’t know what that social contract is. We’re still discovering it,” he said. “We have the opportunities, we have the resources, we have the history — but we need to get the right social contract with the right founding fathers moving forward.”

Part of that social contract, Faily insists, is keeping the country together. Although he’s a Kurd and his father was a confidant to the late Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, Faily believes the current Kurdish push toward independence is a mistake.

“Strategically, a referendum [on Kurdish independence] would be a sign of detachment. And that’s a dangerous message to convey to all,” he said. “It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because we are tribal-oriented. It’s dangerous because we have other challenges. It’s dangerous because IS is trying to put a wedge in our community. People should not play with fire until they fully understand the ramifications.”

Rather, he said, Baghdad and Erbil must forge a bond that goes deeper than the mostly transactional relationship that characterizes so much of Iraqi politics today.

“If anybody tells you that the current formula we have — whether it’s the constitution, the political institutions — is good enough for Iraq, then they are substantially missing out on really understanding the casualties we’ve paid,” Faily said. “At this moment, the return on investment is not there.”

(Source / 28.07.2016)

Hamas: Nouakchott summit statement reflects Arab official deterioration

GAZA, (PIC)– Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, condemned the state of deterioration at the Arab official level reflected by Nouakchott summit statement, called “Hope Summit”, which was held last Monday in the capital of Mauritania.  In a statement on Wednesday, Hamas pointed out that the summit came out with a statement that does not meet the interests of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation. The summit should have identified Israeli occupation as the main terrorist entity in the region. And, it should have considered the Palestinian resistance as legitimate and needs to be supported instead of the confusion it made between resistance and terrorism, Hamas underlined .  “Giving the Green light to political initiatives totally bias to Israel is unacceptable. We refuse the French initiative and normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation. Any solution to the conflict must be accomplished through resistance”, Hamas said.  The closing statement of Nouakchott summit welcomed the French initiative regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and announced adherence to the Arab initiative which was first launched in 2002 in full disregard of the Israeli refusal of both initiatives.

(Source / 28.07.2016)

Al-Nusra leader reveals his face for the first time

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani

Today, the leader of the Al-Qaeda affiliated ‘Jabhat Al-Nusra’ Islamist group has revealed his face publicly for the first time. Though Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani has achieved notoriety as leader of one of the most powerful jihadist groups operating in Syria, he hasn’t maintained a public presence or persona before now.

It is likely that the release of his picture forms part of a ‘charm offensive’ to go alongside the long-rumoured breakaway of Al-Nusra from the international wing of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist organisation.

Some have suggested that the official announcement may be made via the Al-Jazeera news network, and is yet to be released. Nevertheless, other preliminary moves in this direction have already been made, with Al-Nusra revealing a new white (rather than black) banner, as well as a new name: ‘Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham’, or ‘The Levant liberation front’ – a re-branding that reflects a conscious decision to move away from any suggestion of jihadist activity beyond Syria.

The group also aims to seek greater unity with other Islamist factions in the region – an important step if the rebels are to overcome the divisions that are beginning to show in the rebel stronghold of Idlib.

However, it is doubtful that Al-Nusra’s departure from Al-Qaeda will affect the jihadist ideology at the core of the group and its members, whose many war crimes include the recent Zarah massacre.

(Source / 28.07.2016)

16 Palestinians arrested, 3 injured in West Bank

Around 40 percent of Palestinian men living in the occupied territories have been detained by Israel

West Bank, ALRAY – The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested on Thursday night 16 Palestinians from different cities in the West Bank, while three citizens were injured in clashes erupted south Bethlehem.

Israeli public radio reported that the IOF accused three of the arrested of involving in “terrorist activities”, they were referred for investigation.

Local sources said that the Israeli forces stormed several neighborhood in Nablus and arrested ex-detainees and students at Al-Najah University, who were identified as Abed al-Rahman Bashtawi, Mojahed Ashour, Ameen Halaboni, Baraa Zwqan, Fawzi Bashkar, Abed Rahman Wadi and Iyhab Ashour.

In Bethlehem, three Palestinians were injuered with live bullets after IOF stormed Dehesha camp and arrested four others.

The injured were taken to a local hospital, their condition was stable.

Anas Rajbai and Bassam Shoghani were arrested from Jerusalem.

Israeli occupation forces routinely carry out arrest raids in the West Bank. Around 40 percent of Palestinian men living in the occupied territories have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.

(Source / 28.07.2016)

Secret 1970 Document Confirms First West Bank Settlements Built on a Lie …

1973 map of West Bank settlement Kiryat ArbaPeace Now

It has long been an open secret that the settlement enterprise was launched under false pretenses, involving the expropriation of Palestinian land for ostensibly military purposes when the true intent was to build civilian settlements, which is a violation of international law.

Now a secret document from 1970 has surfaced confirming this long-held assumption. The document, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, details a meeting in the office of then-defense minister Moshe Dayan at which government and military leaders spoke explicitly about how to carry out this deception in the building of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Prime Minister Golda Meir in the Knesset, July 26, 1972

The document is titled “The method for establishing Kiryat Arba.” It contains minutes of a meeting held in July 1970 in Dayan’s office, and describes how the land on which the settlement was to be built would be confiscated by military order, ostensibly for security purposes, and that the first buildings on it would be falsely presented as being strictly for military use.

Aside from Dayan, the participants include the director general of the Housing Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces’ commander in the West Bank and the coordinator of government activities in the territories.

‘Construction will be presented as …’

According to the minutes, these officials decided to build “250 housing units in Kiryat Arba within the perimeter of the area specified for the military unit’s use. All the building will be done by the Defense Ministry and will be presented as construction for the IDF’s needs.”

A “few days” after Base 14 had “completed its activities,” the document continued, “the commander of the Hebron district will summon the mayor of Hebron, and in the course of raising other issues, will inform him that we’ve started to build houses on the military base in preparation for winter.” In other words, the participants agreed to mislead the mayor into thinking the construction was indeed for military purposes, when in fact, they planned to let settlers move in – the same settlers who on Passover 1968 moved into Hebron’s Park Hotel, which was the embryo of the settler enterprise.

2015 map of West Bank settlement Kiryat ArbaPeace Now

The system of confiscating land by military order for the purpose of establishing settlements was an open secret in Israel throughout the 1970s, according to people involved in creating and implementing the system. Its goal was to present an appearance of complying with international law, which forbids construction for civilian purposes on occupied land. In practice, everyone involved, from settlers to defense officials, knew the assertion that the land was meant for military rather than civilian use was false.

This system was used to set up several settlements, until the High Court of Justice outlawed it in a 1979 ruling on a petition against the establishment of the settlement of Elon Moreh.

Participant: We all knew the score

Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit, who was coordinator of government activities in the territories at the time of the 1970 meeting in Dayan’s office about Kiryat Arba, told Haaretz it was clear to all the meeting’s participants that settlers would move into those buildings. He said that to the best of his recollection, this constituted the first use of the system of annexing land to a military base for the purpose of civilian settlement in the West Bank. He also recalled Dayan as the one who proposed this system, because he didn’t like any of the alternative locations proposed for Kiryat Arba.

Nevertheless, and despite what the document advocated, Gazit said, army officers told the mayor of Hebron explicitly that a civilian settlement would be established next to his city, rather than telling him the construction was for military purposes.

Hagit Ofran, head of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project, also said this appears to be the first use of the system of using military orders to seize land for civilian settlement. And while this system is no longer in use, she said, “Today, too, the state uses tricks to build and expand settlements. We don’t need to wait decades for the revelation of another internal document to realize that the current system for taking over land – wholesale declarations of it as state land – also violates the essence of the law.”

Gazit said that in retrospect, the system was wrong, but that he was just “a bureaucrat, in quotation marks; I carried out the government’s orders, in quotation marks.”

“I think this pretense has continued until today,” he added. “Throughout my seven years as coordinator of government activities in the territories, we didn’t establish settlements anywhere by any other system.”

But government officials had no idea Kiryat Arba (pop. 8,000) would become so big, Gazit insisted. They only sought to provide a solution for the squatters in the Park Hotel, who “weren’t more than 50 families.”

Today, even Kiryat Arba residents admit that this system was a deception. Settler ideologue Elyakim Haetzni, one of Kiryat Arba’s original residents, noted that during a Knesset debate at the time, cabinet minister Yigal Allon said clearly that this would be a civilian settlement.

“It’s clear why this game ended; after all, how long could it go on? This performance had no connection whatsoever to Herut (the predecessor to Likud); it was all within Mapai,” Haetzni added, referring to the ruling party at the time, a precursor of today’s Labor Party.

(Source  (via mail) / 28.07.2016)

Jewish groups prepare for anti-Aqsa events next August

The events aim to commemorate the alleged temple destruction

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Extremist Jewish groups have started making preparations and holding meetings to incite their followers to participate in events in Jerusalem and group marches to the Aqsa Mosque to be organized during August to commemorate what they claim to be the destruction of the first and second temples. According to Qpress news website, these preparations include symposiums, conferences, lectures, sit-ins and other anti-Aqsa events to be held in Occupied Jerusalem and other major cities. These preparatory events are aimed to whip up the Jewish masses and encourage them to march en masse to the Aqsa Mosque, which they falsely call the temple mount.

(Source / 28.07.2016)

Turkey Warms To Russia; Pipeline, Sanctions To Be Discussed, Qatar Blames KSA, UAE For Coup

While it is still too early to tell who organized the coup or even to fully analyze Erdogan’s behavior afterwards, these recent developments are notable.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, second left, National Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, left and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim look on at the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 25, 2016.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, second left, National Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, left and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim look on at the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 25, 2016

It’s been over a week since the Turkish coup has taken place and still no one definitively knows what happened, who was behind it, and who was originally meant to benefit. It is rather obvious now that, since the coup did not succeed, Erdogan will find himself in a much safer position domestically than before it took place by virtue of the massive governmental and military purge that has taken place in its aftermath. Internationally, however, is another question.

Still, no one fully knows whether or not Erdogan was actually set to benefit from the coup to begin with. Was Erdogan behind the coup himself? Was Fethullah Gulen behind the coup? Were the nationalists behind the coup? Did Erdogan and the United States stage the coup together to allow for a crackdown and double-down on the nationalist faction? Was the coup actually the work of the United States attempting to overthrow Erdogan over his previous moves toward warming relations with Russia? All of these questions have been asked but none have yielded any definitive answer.

What is certain, however, is that Erdogan’s behavior in the weeks after the coup will tell us more about who was actually behind the coup.

While it is still too early to tell who organized the coup or even to fully analyze Erdogan’s behavior afterwards, some recent developments are notable.

For instance, on August 9, Erdogan is expected to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia in order to take part in talks with Vladimir Putin for the purposes of speeding up the repair of Turkish/Russian relations.

Announcing the August 9 visit, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek stated that Russia “isn’t just our close and friendly neighbor, but also a strategic partner.”

“Today,” he said. “we are here to normalize the situation and our relations as soon as possible and at an accelerated pace since they were disrupted on November 24.” Simsek was referring to the downing of the Russian jet fighter over Syria by Turkey that took place months ago.

Bloomberg news describes the upcoming meeting in glowing terms and as more than a mere diplomatic formality. The agency writes,

The attempt to overthrow Erdogan has turbo-charged efforts to restore ties between Turkey and Russia that were already under way after the crisis over the warplane. The rapprochement may even lead to a political realignment in the region. Erdogan has drawn strong criticism from the U.S. and other NATO allies for a sweeping crackdownon tens of thousands of alleged opponents following the failed coup, while Turkey has heaped praise on Russia for its support since the crisis erupted on July 15.

Simsek emphasized Turkey’s gratitude to Russia at the talks with Dvorkovich on restoring economic ties, saying: “You supported democracy, supported the government. Thank you very much.”

. . . . .

Turkey received “unconditional support” from Russia over the coup attempt, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview to Haberturk TV on Monday. He also said anti-U.S. sentiment is rising in the country after the failed revolt.

Putin ordered the Russian government last month to begin lifting sanctions imposed on Turkey after Erdogan sent a letter offering “sympathy and profound condolences” to the family of the pilot who died when Turkey shot down his plane during the November mission to bomb Islamic State and other militants in Syria.

Putin had accused Turkey of a “stab in the back” for downing the jet and railed against the “ruling gang” in Ankara, as Russia retaliated with a ban on charter flights that harmed tourism and sanctions on imports of some Turkish fruits and vegetables. In December, Russia directly accused Erdogan’s family of being involved in illegal oil trading with Islamic State, a charge Turkey rejected.

Bloomberg also mentions a renewed interest and hope for the Turkish-Stream pipeline. It reports,

Turkey confirmed interest in resuming the Turkish Stream gas-pipeline project, Alexander Medvedev, deputy chief executive officer of Gazprom PJSC, told reporters after taking part in talks between Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Zeybekci. A decision on an agreement will be made after Putin and Erdogan meet, he said.

Russia shelved talks in December on the planned Black Sea link that would make Turkey a linchpin in Europe’s energy supplies by 2020, with Gazprom saying the route was still possible if political relations improved.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues to launch accusations against the United States and demand, to no avail at least at the current time, that Fethullah Gulen be extradited. Some sources in Turkey have even pointed the finger at U.S. Commander Of The International Security Assistance Force, a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan, as the organizer of the coup. Pro-Erdogan Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reports,

A former U.S. commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan, was the organizer of the July 15 military coup attempt in Turkey, sources said.

General John F. Campbell was one of the top figures who organized and managed the soldiers behind the failed coup attempt in Turkey, sources close to ongoing legal process of pro-coup detainees said.

Campbell also managed more than $2 billion money transactions via UBA Bank in Nigeria by using CIA links to distribute among the pro-coup military personnel in Turkey.

The ongoing investigation unveiled that Campbell had paid at least two secret visits to Turkey since May, until the day of the coup attempt.

The coup plot that was foiled by the comprehensive effort of Turkish Nation, including its citizens, politicians, media and police forces, was organized by the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) led-by so-called cleric Fethullah Gülen who has been living in self-exile in America for several years.

American Intelligence, Military and other institutions are accused of supporting the FETO leader Gülen and his gangs for the military coup.

Military sources said Campbell, who was the commander of ISAF between August 26, 2014 and May 1, 2016, had made some top secret meetings in Erzurum military base and Adana İnicrlik Airbase.

İncirlik Airbase has been used by the U.S. Military for conducting the anti-Daesh campaign in Syria.

Military sources said that Campbell was the man, who directed the process of trending / blacklisting the military officers in the base.

If the coup attempt was successful, Campbell would visit Turkey in a short time, according to the sources.

The Nigeria branch of the United Bank of Africa (UBA) was the main base for the last six-months of money transactions for the coup plotters.

Millions of dollars of money has been transferred from Nigeria to Turkey by a group of CIA personnel.

The money, which has been distributed to an 80-person special team of the CIA, was used to convince pro-coup generals.

More than 2 billion dollars were distributed during the process leading to the coup.

After taking money from their bank accounts, the CIA team hand delivered it to the terrorists under the military dresses.

In the Persian Gulf, accusations are also starting to circulate with Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense claiming that both Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates supported the coup. According to Khalid al-Attiyah, “This document [which he posted on his twitter account]reveals that a Saudi Emir and a top Emirati military official have been aware, in advance, of an imminent plot to topple the Turkish President through their participation in the Anatolian Eagle maneuvers held last May. However, they refrained from informing the Turkish authorities.” According to the document, the coup was scheduled for August but took place on July 15th.

Likewise, fallout is taking place in Europe with the EU warning Erdogan that his reaction to the coup may jeopardize his chances of being admitted into the EU. In fact, Brussels has warned that, if Turkey decides to go ahead with its reinstatement of the death penalty for the putchists, its bid for membership would be effectively over.

These recent developments (a greater trend toward Russia and continued shaky relations with Europe and the United States) tend to lend credence to claims by those suggesting that the coup was initiated by West (the United States in particular) as a response to Turkey’s recent warming of relations with Russia. These individuals claim that the U.S., in fear that they were losing an ally and useful pawn in the war against Syria to Russia, attempted to overthrow Erdogan and replace him with a more amenable government or, at the very least, frighten Erdogan into playing ball.

One such individual is researcher and analyst, Mimi al-Laham (aka Syrian Girl, Partisan Girl). She says,

“I don’t believe it [the coup] is [an inside job], the man had to go on FaceTime to tell his people to come out in the streets and protest, it was quite humiliating! The reason I don’t believe it was, it’s because a few days before the coup, about 4 days, Turkey started making statements that they were sorry for shooting down the Russian jet, and they wanted to re-affirm their alliance with Russia, and they wanted to get closer to their regional allies. This was like a few days or weeks after Brexit. Basically, the EU wasn’t the same EU anymore.. and the Turkey wasn’t desperate to join it any-more, so Turkey decided to maybe come up with a different Foreign Policy, and Turkey is also unhappy with the agenda to create a Kurdish state in Syria, because that is going to create a Kurdish state in Turkey as well, and of-course, it is going to displace the Christian and Syrian population in Syria as a result, but I guess those people don’t matter, as long as the agenda is pushed.

But, Erdogan is / has been a criminal for the last 4 years, and there is no doubt that he has supported terrorism up until this day, but, he is not the biggest criminal: the biggest criminals were his puppet masters which were in the White House, because, obviously, those people are far more powerful, and those people – there is a lot of indication that it was actually the CIA that was behind it. There were reports that came out that Russia actually tipped off the Turks : the leader behind the coup is in Washington, and Washington has refused to extradite him.

If you look at the Media, the Main Stream Media, for some reason, even though we have been calling Erdogan a terrorist supporter for ages, only now have they decided: “Yep! Oh yea, yea, he is a terrorist supporter.”

France, just before the Nice attacks, or – I’m not quite sure but at-least before the coup, they shut down their Embassy in Turkey. I mean, France has made statements now that Erdogan can no longer be a partner against terror. It’s a joke, cause France itself has been openly arming terror for the last 4 years, and, of-course, so has Turkey : so what’s really going on is France is angry that Turkey is choosing to go a different way now, it’s leaning now towards trying to reverse the disaster it has created for itself, with this instability, with economic problems with Russia, taking advice and shooting down a Russian jet, all because they wanted to join the EU – which is on its way to collapsing.

This is how I read the situation, and I think that *the idea that they did it to themselves.. uhm, I think it comes from a hate and distrust of Erdogan, like a lack of understanding as to why sometimes puppets are just thrown away when they are no longer doing what they are told, or they are no longer useful – which – you know, it’s a confusing situation, but no, many people died, people are in exile, coup leaders are in jail, I don’t think he did it to himself, I think that Russia tipped him off about a CIA agent to get rid of him, and put in some-one else that was gonna maintain the status-quo, and not try to make friends with Russia.”

Still, as Tony Cartalucci writes in his article “Turkey’s Failed Coup A Gift From God,” if the United States was truly involved in the Turkish coup or even if the U.S. had merely facilitated the coup via the Gulen Movement, Turkey’s response has been “disproportionately subdued.” “No one is suggesting that Turkey would “go to war” with the United States,” writes Cartalucci, “but even amid diplomatic rows of far lesser significance, nations have expelled diplomats and withdrawn the use of their territory for specific uses by the nation in question. Turkey, so far, has done none of this in regards to the United States.”

If the U.S. was truly involved in the Turkish coup one would expect a number of actions to follow the incident. First, as Cartalucci suggests, we would expect to see the expulsion of diplomats and the expulsion of U.S. forces from Turkish territory, namely Incirlik Air Base. We would expect the closure of the rather large American embassy in Ankara. Likewise, Turkey would then be forced to rethink its membership in NATO since, despite the organization being based upon the concept of “collective defense,” no one came to Turkey’s aid even though the coup would be considered an overt act of war against the Turkish government.

We would also expect to see Turkey move closer to Russia, Iran, and possibly China as well as some elements of Europe. While international developments are clearly still in flux, we have seen at least some signs that Turkey is moving closer to Russia but, interestingly enough, signs that Turkey may be moving further away from Europe.

So there still stands as a distinct possibility that the United States was indeed involved in the coup but that it was not alone.

At this point in time, we can only watch and gauge the reactions of Turkey and the subsequent behavior of the Erdogan government. Will Turkey engage in punitive measures or will it double down against Syria, Russia, Iran, and political dissent within the country? Without being privy to inside information, Turkey’s behavior will tell us all we need to know in regards to who was behind this coup.

If Erdogan did indeed conspire with the United States to stage a coup and provide a pretext for a massive crackdown and purge of his political enemies, then the man known for narcissism and delusions of grandeur made one hell of a gutsy move that appears to be paying dividends in the form of solidifying his control over the country. If this is case, then Turkey is in for an even rougher ride and, unfortunately, so is Syria.

(Source / 28.07.2016)

CRITICS FEAR CRACKDOWN ON PALESTINIAN FREE SPEECH AS ISRAEL TAKES AIM AT FACEBOOK

TWO DAYS AFTER a Palestinian teen fatally stabbed an Israeli girl, an Israeli official blamed an American living thousands of miles away for the crime, as well as similar attacks.

“Some of the victims’ blood is on Zuckerberg’s hands,” Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security minister, said on Israeli television in early July, referring to Mark Zuckerberg, the head of social media giant Facebook.

In this Thursday, July 14, 2016 photo, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in Tel Aviv, Israel. Blaming incitement for the latest, 10-month spate of Palestinian attacks, Israel is taking its fight to a new level: A new law in the works, co-sponsored Erdan, aims to force Facebook and other social media platforms to take down content Israel deems as fueling violence. Some warn it goes too far, limiting free expression. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

On July 14, 2016, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security minister, blamed incitement for the latest spate of Palestinian attacks.

Erdan called Facebook a “monster” because it has become the platform of choice for Palestinians to denounce Israeli rule and broadcast their intention to attack Israelis. Muhammad Tarayra, the 17-year-old Palestinian behind the June 30 knife attack in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, had written on Facebook that “death is a right and I demand my right.” He expressed anger that Israeli soldiers had killed his cousin after he tried to run over them, according to Israeli news reports.

Now, Israeli officials are seeking to pressure Facebook to take down posts similar to Tarayra’s. On July 13, Erdan and Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s justice minister, submitted a bill to the Israeli Knesset that would empower courts to compel Facebook to remove content deemed violent. And amid Israel’s legislative push against Facebook — including a separate measure that would see Facebook fined if it did not remove content inciting people to terrorism — an Israeli law firm has also filed suit against the social media company in a U.S. court.

The moves amount to a multi-pronged campaign aimed at Facebook, which has been increasingly drawn into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli ministers have cast Facebook in the role of terror supporter and now want to force the company to police Palestinian speech they say leads to violence.

But Israeli laws against incitement have also been used to arrest Palestinians whose Facebook posts criticize Israeli rule but do not explicitly support violence. Palestinians say that Facebook does not fuel militant attacks against Israel and that it is Israel’s decadeslong occupation and discriminatory policies against Palestinians that lead to violence.

TOPSHOT - Rina (2-R) the mother of Israeli Hallel, a 13-year-old girl who was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian attacker in her home, mourns during her funeral in the Kiryat Arba settlement outside the Israeli occupied West Bank city of Hebron on June 30, 2016.  The Israeli army said that a young Palestinian killed Hallel in her bed after breaking into her home in the Kiryat Arba settlement outside the flashpoint city of Hebron. Security personnel rushed to the house and fired on the attacker, who wounded a guard before being shot dead, the army said. The girl was taken to hospital in Jerusalem in critical condition and died of her wounds. / AFP / GIL COHEN-MAGEN        (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The mother of a 13-year-old Israeli girl who was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian attacker mourns during her funeral in the Kiryat Arba settlement outside Hebron, June 30, 2016.

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian Knesset member with the Joint List coalition of Palestinian parties, toldThe Intercept that the proposed bill would violate freedom of expression. “We are afraid that, basically, such a law will be used to target legitimate critique against the occupation,” he said.

Facebook did not respond to questions about the Israeli legislation. But the company told Reuters it works “regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world, including Israel, to ensure that people know how to make safe use of Facebook. There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform.”

Israeli officials have been railing against Facebook since October 2015, when cases emerged of Palestinians stabbing Israelis as part of what some call the “knife intifada.” Shaked, the justice minister, has met with Facebook officials to pressure them to take action against incitement. At a conference in Hungary in June, she said that Facebook, Twitter, and Google remove 70 percent of violent content in Israel. The offices of Shaked and Erdan did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In 2015, Facebook took down 431 pieces of content that it said violated harassment laws or denied the Holocaust, which is against the law in Israel. And Facebook’s report on government requests shows that last year, Facebook handed over user data to Israeli authorities for about 60 percent of the 468 requests it received.

Some of those requests pertain to Palestinians swept up in Israel’s dragnet targeting social media users who post messages against Israeli wars and occupation. As The Intercept reported, the Israeli police detained Sohaib Zahda, a Palestinian activist, in August 2014 after he wrote angry messages about an Israeli commander on a Facebook page he ran. While he was in custody, the Israeli police sent an order to Facebook for data about Zahda’s page. The company complied, according to Zahda’s lawyer.

Digital rights advocate Eva Galperin, a global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, criticized Facebook for acceding to Israeli requests for user data.

Facebook does “not scrutinize [the requests] as carefully as we would like,” said Galperin.

In a later interview, she added: “The state of Israel’s human rights record vis-a-vis Palestinians is not great. It’s incredibly troubling” that Facebook gives Israel information on Palestinians.

Israeli authorities want Facebook to do more. During his interview with Israeli news outlet Channel 2, Erdan complained that Facebook “sabotages” Israeli police work because it does not cooperate with requests pertaining to residents of the occupied West Bank. Israel has ruled the West Bank since 1967, when it captured the territory during the Six Day War, but much of the world does not recognize Israeli sovereignty there.

Facebook has also refused some requests for data on Palestinian citizens of Israel. In October 2015, when the Israeli police sent a legal order to Facebook requesting “all records” on and the IP address of Dareen Tatour, a citizen arrested for Facebook posts and a YouTube poem, Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, did not respond to the order, Tatour’s lawyer Abed Fahoum told The Intercept.

dareen-tatour-fb

Screen grab of the “Free Dareen Tatour” Facebook page set up in response to the arrest of the Palestinian poet by Israeli police based on her status updates and poems.

The bill pushed by Erdan and Shaked seeks to force Facebook to take down content that an Israeli court deems a threat to Israeli security, though Facebook would have the ability to appeal such an order. An Israeli prosecutor could introduce the state’s confidential information as part of a case seeking to take down a Facebook post.

On July 17, the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which determines whether the ruling coalition will support a bill, approved a separate piece of legislation that would fine Internet companies $78,000 if they do not take down content deemed “incitement” within two days. The bill, which would require Facebook to monitor its own network for such content, easily passed a preliminary Knesset vote on July 20.

“I don’t think Facebook is responsible for terror or for the terror wave,” said Zionist Union Knesset member Revital Swid, who introduced the bill. “But they can do a lot to prevent [attacks].”

Swid insists her proposed bill would not infringe on freedom of speech, and she would prefer that Facebook monitor and take down such postings voluntarily. “Telling someone to go and to do terror acts, that’s not freedom of speech,” said Swid, who explained that her legislation is narrowly tailored to focus on posts that call for terrorism.

The campaign to pressure Facebook to censor its users has also made its way to the United States, where the company is headquartered. On July 11, the Israeli legal center Shurat HaDin sued Facebook in U.S. federal court on behalf of the families of U.S. citizens killed by Palestinian attackers in Israel.

A 2007 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks quotes the center’s head, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, as saying that in its early years, Shurat HaDin took direction from the Israeli government on what cases to file. However, she now strenuously denies ever saying that to a U.S. diplomat.

The Shurat HaDin lawsuit alleges that Facebook “knowingly” provided material support to Hamas because the Palestinian militant group has “used and relied on Facebook’s online social network platform and communications services” to carry out terrorism. Under U.S. law, it is illegal to provide material support — including any service-like communications equipment — to a group, like Hamas, on the U.S. designated terrorist list maintained by the State Department.

A Facebook spokesperson described the lawsuit as “without merit,” adding that the company has a “set of Community Standards to help people understand what is allowed on Facebook, and we urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action.”

Palestinian flags are seen placed on the rubble of a house belonging to a Palestinian man who carried out a knife attack in Tel Aviv on March 8 in which an American tourist was killed, after it was demolished by Israeli security forces in the village of Haja, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on June 21, 2016.</p><br /><br /> <p>An Israeli spokeswoman said Palestinian Bashar Madhala carried out the March 8 seafront knife attacks which killed 29-year-old Texan Taylor Allen Force and wounded at least 10 Israelis as US Vice President Joe Biden arrived for a visit.</p><br /><br /> <p> / AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH        (Photo credit should read JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty Images)

A house in the West Bank belonging to a Palestinian man who carried out a knife attack in March, in which an U.S. tourist was killed, was demolished by Israeli security forces, June 21, 2016.

“Facebook, the all-American, social media, 21st century, billion-dollar business is providing the communications system and advertising system for this terrorist group that is only too happy, by their stated intent, to kill and maim civilians,” said Bob Tolchin, who is U.S. counsel on this suit and frequently works with Shurat HaDin.

Some observers think the suit against Facebook has a chance of advancing through the U.S. court system.Writing on the blog Lawfare, legal analysts Benjamin Wittes and Zoe Bedell said that Shurat HaDin makes a strong case that Hamas’s use of Facebook — including posts calling for violence — helps cause militant action that has killed Israelis.

But Aaron Mackey, a legal fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the plaintiffs in the suit have a high legal barrier to clear in the case. He said the suit does not establish that Facebook helped cause the attacks and the Communications Decency Act broadly immunizes Facebook from liability for content on its platform.

If the lawsuit is successful, however, the consequences could be profound, he said. It could lead to certain parts of the world being cut off from Facebook, or certain users’ posts being censored if they mention Hamas or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mackey described the lawsuit, coupled with Israel’s push against incitement on Facebook and proposed U.S. legislation requiring social media companies to report terrorist-related content to law enforcement, as part of a broader strategy.

“These are all small strategies as part of a larger goal to force Facebook and Twitter to become the sort of active police for certain types of speech and content,” he said. “But what that’s ultimately going to mean is less speech about things that these governments disagree with.”

(Source / 28.07.2016)