Syrian artillery, aircraft pound rebels in Aleppo

ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) — Syrian artillery, planes and a helicopter gunship pounded rebel positions in Aleppo on Saturday, witnesses said, as President Bashar Assad’s forces tried to break through the insurgents’ front-line in Syria’s largest city.

Syrian forces clashed with rebels around Aleppo’s television and radio station, activists said, and a local rebel commander said his fighters were preparing for a “strong offensive” by government forces on the city.

In the capital Damascus, troops backed by armor stormed the last opposition bastion on Friday in a drive to crush a rebel offensive that coincided with a bombing that killed four of Assad’s senior security officials. The onslaught continued on Saturday as jets bombarded the city, a resident said.

Syrian forces battered Aleppo’s Salaheddine district, seen as a gateway for the army into the city of 2.5 million people. The fate of the district could determine the outcome of a conflict that has already claimed some 18,000 lives.

“There is one helicopter and we’re hearing two explosions every minute,” a Reuters witness said.

The civil war has intensified in the past few weeks, with fighting engulfing Damascus and Aleppo for the first time in the 17-month-old uprising against Assad family rule.

The two cities are crucial prizes for both sides in a conflict that has eluded all attempts at a diplomatic solution and risks igniting a wider conflagration.

UN member states on Friday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Syrian government at a special session of the 193-nation General Assembly that Western diplomats said highlighted the isolation of Assad supporters Russia and China.

Western and Arab powers want Assad to step aside but Russia and China have used their Security Council vetoes to block attempts to force him out. They say outside interference is prolonging the bloodshed.

Assad’s government, allied to Iran and Lebanon’s armed Shiite Hezbollah movement, is at odds with Turkey and most of the Arab world, especially US-aligned states such as Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-ruled Gulf partners.


In Salaheddine, rebels from the Free Syrian Army hid in alleyways, dodging the Syrian army’s bullets and tank rounds that struck a building in the western district on Saturday.

Two fighter jets opened fire with cannon and smoke billowed from the district. A witness said: “We saw two fighter bombers that are each capable of carrying one bomb fly over the area of Salaheddine and then we heard two explosions.”

Bullets zipped past residential buildings, as rebels took cover behind concrete blocks and makeshift sandbags and fired in the direction of Assad’s forces.

One fighter fell to the ground after a bullet hit his chest. Fellow rebels dragged him into a car, leaving a trail of blood on the ground, to take him to the field hospital.

Explosions shook the shutters of abandoned shops and brought down a rain of concrete from buildings in Salaheddine.

A Syrian activist told Reuters the rebels had earlier sought to extend their area of control from the Salaheddine district, where the most intense fighting has been focused, northwards to the area around the television and radio station.

“The Free Syrian Army pushed from Salaheddine to al-Adhamiya where they clashed this morning with Syrian troops. But they had to retreat,” the activist who identified himself as Barraa al-Halabi told Reuters.

A 19-year-old fighter called Mu’awiya al-Halabi, who was at the scene, said rebels entered the station but were driven out.

“The Syrian army sent snipers and surrounded the TV station and as soon as morning came, the army started shooting. One of our fighters was martyred and four were wounded,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said 110 people had been killed on Friday, including 88 civilians, also confirmed the clash near the station.

Superior firepower

Syrian television said a large number of terrorists, the term it uses for the rebels, were killed and wounded after they tried to storm the television and radio station. It said the army had killed dozens of fighters in Hamadaniyeh, Sukkari and Salaheddine districts and that others had surrendered.

Earlier in the day, a local rebel commander in Aleppo said he expected a Syrian army attack on rebels “within days”, echoing the head of the UN peacekeeping department, who said there had been a “considerable build-up of military means”.

“We know they are planning to attack the city using tanks and aircraft, shooting at us for three to four days and they plan to take the city,” Colonel Abdel-Jabbar al-Oqaidi said.

Faced with the Syrian army’s superior firepower, Oqaidi said the rebels were counting on mass defections by government soldiers once the offensive started.

“At the moment the soldiers cannot leave their bases and they are too afraid to defect. Once they are inside our city they will take off their uniforms and join us,” he said.

In Damascus, a resident in the Adawi neighborhood just north of the central Old City district, reported that jets had pounded an area of the capital on Saturday. “The bombardment has been continuous since 7 am in Tadamun district. It hasn’t stopped for a moment,” said the resident.

On Friday Syrian forces stormed Tadamun, the rebels’ last stronghold in the city.

Syrian television said on Saturday an armed terrorist group had committed a massacre in the Damascus suburb of Yalda, near Tadamun .

The television station said 20 people had been killed. It was not immediately possible to verify the incident as Syria bars many foreign media from reporting inside the country.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is quitting as international peace envoy for Syria, said on Thursday that Assad should step down. He urged Syria allies Russia, China and Iran to persuade him to embrace political transition.

A bus-load of 48 Iranian pilgrims were abducted by gunmen in Syria on Saturday, Iranian media reported, the latest in a string of kidnappings of visitors from the Islamic Republic.

( / 04.08.2012)

Israeli troops wound man near Syrian Golan fence

In May last year, Israeli troops opened fire on protesters from Syria, among them Palestinian refugees, who surged across the border fence.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israeli troops shot across the ceasefire line with Syria on the occupied Golan Heights to wound a man suspected of planning to tamper with the boundary fence on Saturday, the military said.

The Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and later annexed, has been largely untouched by the 17-month-old uprising rocking Damascus. But Israel has been on guard for hostilities or refugee influxes on the strategic plateau.

Troops in the southern Golan spotted a man approaching the fence with wire-cutters and he did not heed warnings to back off, nor warning shots fired in the air, Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, said.

He was shot in the knee and taken away by three other people, Leibovich said.

“We call this an infiltration attempt … a breach of the border which we cannot allow,” she told reporters, saying there had been several other such incidents on the Golan recently.

Asked if the man shot on Saturday might have been seeking asylum in Israeli-held territory, Leibovich was dismissive.

“Someone who comes with cutters is not, I believe, innocent,” she said, adding that it was possible the man was testing Israel’s defenses.

Israel’s military chief, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, said in January preparations were under way on the Golan for a flood of refugees from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s minority Alawite sect, should he be toppled.

In May last year, Israeli troops opened fire on protesters from Syria, among them Palestinian refugees, who surged across the fortified boundary fence.

At least 23 people were killed in the incident, which Israel accused Assad of orchestrating in a bid to divert international scrutiny from his crackdown on the Syrian uprising.

( / 04.08.2012)

The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers

The world cheered when peaceful pro-democracy movements overthrew autocratic governments in Tunisia and Egypt this year, but old fears that long-banned Islamist movements in both countries would rise to prominence, endangering the rights of women and minorities and fostering violent extremism, quickly resurfaced. So too, however, did leaders of those movements who seem determined to say all the right things when it comes to Islamism and democracy.

“We have continuously defended the right of women and men to choose their own lifestyle, and we are against the imposition of the headscarf in the name of Islam,” said Rached Ghannouchi, the 70-year-old former socialist turned Islamist leader of Tunisia’s al-Nahda (Renaissance) party who returned home in January after 22 years of exile in London, where he’d fled after a decade of torture and imprisonment in his home country. After winning a plurality of 40 percent in Tunisia’s first-ever democratic elections, Ghannouchi’s party is a major power broker in the new government.

Khairat El Shater, the top financier of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, spent a dozen years in prison under Hosni Mubarak before being released after the revolution. He also sought to reassure the West, writing in the Guardian, “The success of the Muslim Brotherhood should not frighten anybody: we respect the rights of all religious and political groups.” The leadership of the now-legal Muslim Brotherhood is very much up for grabs, and Shater is seen as a leading candidate to head the party and perhaps, one day, the country: a media-savvy engineer who became prosperous as a textile and furniture trader, developing a knack for working with foreign investors.

Given the audiences these leaders command, there’s little hope for democracy unless they are on board. So far, they seem to be playing a mostly productive role. Let’s hope it stays that way.

(see the complete list on / 04.08.2012)

Qatar-backed syrian islamists form armed militias not affiliated to the Free Syrian Army



Muslim Brotherhood establishes militia inside Syria

The Muslim Brotherhood has established its own militia inside Syria as the country’s rebels fracture between radical Islamists and their rivals, commanders and gun-runners have told The Daily Telegraph. 

August 3, 2012

Calling itself the “Armed Men of the Muslim Brotherhood”, the militia has a presence in Damascus as well as opposition hot spots like Homs and Idlib. One of their organisers, who called himself Abu Hamza, said that he started the movement along with a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the opposition alliance.

“We saw there were civilians with weapons inside, so we decided to co-operate with them and put them under one umbrella,” he said.

Hossam Abu Habel, whose late father was in Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s, said that he raised $40-50,000 (£25,000-£32,000) a month to supply Islamist militias in Homs province with weapons and other aid.

The militias he funded were not affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main rebel movement, added Mr Abu Habel.

“Our mission is to build a civil country but with an Islamic base,” he said. “We are trying to raise awareness for Islam and for jihad.”

The Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood has been revitalised by the organisation’s success in Egypt, where it won both parliamentary and presidential elections.

In the early days of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, secular and Islamist rebels were both prepared to fight under the FSA’s banner and recognise the SNC as their political masters.

But the FSA, dominated by defectors from the regime’s army, has fallen out with the SNC, whose leaders are in exile. It now has its own political front, the Syrian Support Group (SSG). This split has divided the revolution’s main international backers, with Saudi Arabia supporting the FSA and Qatar moving closer to the SNC and the Islamist militias.

The divisions are affecting operations on the ground: competing militias co-operate when necessary but otherwise disavow each other. “I would take it as an insult if you described me as FSA,” said Abu Bakri, a front line commander of an Islamist militia in Aleppo calling itself the Abu Emara Battalion.

One activist described how he was working with Sunni politicians in Lebanon to buy arms for the FSA with Saudi money.

A member of the FSA command centre, located in neighbouring Turkey, told the Daily Telegraph that they have this week received large consignments of ammunition, machine guns and anti-tank missiles. At one point Saudi Arabia and Qatar were both funding the FSA, with the command centre receiving up to $3 million in cash every month. But the operative said the situation had changed.

“Now we are not working with the Qataris because they made so many mistakes supporting other groups.”

But the fracturing of the armed opposition raises the prospect of post-Assad Syria becoming a battleground. “This adds to the fragmentation and tones down the credibility of the opposition,” said Louay Sakka, the SSG’s Executive Director. “Supporters should go through the proper channel of the Free Syrian Army military council rather than build their own militias.”

Amr al-Azm, a Syrian-American academic who was briefly on the SNC, said that Syria risked the same kind of disintegration that was set in motion by Saddam Hussein’s downfall in neighbouring Iraq. The West’s decision to limit its involvement in the Syrian conflict – and refrain from supplying lethal weapons – had left a gap for the Islamists to fill.

“By playing to your own fears, you are making them come true,” said Mr Azm. “By not intervening, you are forcing people to go those who have resources. No one wants to go to al-Qaeda, but if you are down to your last five bullets and someone asks you to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) five times, you do it.”

( / 04.08.2012)

Israel punishing Gazans collectively for electing Hamas: Gaza official

Israel’s violating the Gazans’ right to live a healthy life and punishing them for democratically electing the Hamas movement.”

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra says Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are being subjected to Israeli collective punishment, Press TV reports.

Qedra said water pollution levels in the coastal enclave have reached alarming levels after years of Israeli blockade.

Infants and children are the worst hit by water pollution, where acute cases of diarrhea among other intestinal ailments are widespread among the Gazan children.

“Our doctors are having a hard time dealing with many cases of [infected] children… Israel’s violating the Gazans’ right to live a healthy life and punishing them for democratically electing the Hamas movement,” he told Press TV.

According to the United Nations, at least 90 percent of the coastal enclave’s water supplies are unsafe to drink.

Nitrate and chloride levels in Gaza water, which are one of the highest in the world and have continued to rise, pose serious health risks throughout the blockaded territory.

Meanwhile, during the war on Gaza at the turn of 2009, Israeli forces targeted sewage treatment plants which caused raw sewage to seep into the aquifer and contaminate it.

Israel also prevents desalination and water treatment equipment from reaching Gaza.

The Gaza Strip has been blockaded since 2007, which is a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

( / 04.08.2012)

Teenage protester shot dead in Saudi Arabia’s Qatif

Saudi protesters hold a rally in Qatif, Eastern Province. (File photo)

Saudi protesters hold a rally in Qatif, Eastern Province.
An 18-year-old Saudi protester has died of his injuries, a day after he was shot in the chest by security forces in the eastern part of the country, Press TV reports.

According to the Saudi interior ministry, Hussain Yousef al-Qallaf, who succumbed to his wounds on Saturday, was among a number of young protesters who clashed with regime forces in the Qatif region of the oil-rich Eastern Province on Friday.

The ministry claimed that the protesters shot and killed a policeman and injured another as they were patrolling the area, but did not provide further details about the incident.

Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province has been the hub of a growing anti-monarchy sentiment.

In a demonstration on Friday, protesters demanded the release of teenage activist Muhammad al-Shakhouri and other political activists.

Shakhouri was injured and arrested on July 27 and now is in a military hospital in the city of Dhahran.

The Saudi authorities say Shakhouri had been among the 23 most wanted men in Qatif. He was protesting the detention of prominent cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr when he was detained.

Sheikh Nemr was injured and arrested by Saudi security forces of the Al Saud regime while driving from a farm to his house in Qatif on July 8.

Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the Kingdom’s east, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah.

The demonstrators called for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

( / 04.08.2012)

Een Nederlandse lente?

Deze week was er op het Nederlandse Journaal (primetime, 20.00 uur) een kort bericht over Palestina. Over een boer die € 1200 van Nederland had ontvangen voor de aanleg van een waterput, maar die in de uitvoering van zijn project werd gedwarsboomd door de ‘Israëlische wetgever’. Voor de aanleg van de waterput – in dit geval – moet een vergunning worden aangevraagd, die echter in 95% van de gevallen nooit wordt gegeven. Nederland is van mening dat voor landbouwvoorzieningen geen vergunning nodig is.

Nu is het al heel wat, dat het Journaal over de Palestijnse kwestie wat op tv brengt en misschien gaat het de betere kant uit … een Nederlandse lente in het brengen van berichten over Moslims? En dan zeker over de pijn, maar ook het dagelijkse leven van de Moslims. In Palestina en Myanmar worden mensen vermoord, onderdrukt, verkracht en noem maar op. Maar erg weinig komt er terecht in de Nederlandse media.
In de uitzending werd gesproken door de journaliste over de “illegale waterput”, maar op de achtergrond waren de contouren te zien van een settler stad in aanbouw, illegaal op Palestijns grondgebied. Maar ja, daar wordt niet over gesproken. Israëls illegale praktijken worden met de mantel der liefde onder het vloerkleed geveegd. Wat je niet ziet, is niet waar, toch?

Jammer dat de persdienst niet haar best heeft gedaan, om even wat dieper in de geschiedenis van vernietiging van Palestijnse bouwwerken te gaan spitten. Laat ik de journaliste in Jeruzalem maar een beetje helpen. In de Trouw van 19 september 2001 is een artikel te vinden over het feit dat Israël de haven van Gaza ’s nachts met tanks en bulldozers had vernietigd. De partij die deze haven aan het bouwen was, was Nederland samen met Frankrijk, voor de Palestijnse economie.  De Nederlandse onderneming Ballast zou mede-uitvoerder van het project zijn. Aan het hek van de omheining hing een bord met een tekst dat de Gaza-haven gebouwd werd dankzij donaties van Nederland, Frankrijk en een lening van de Europese investeringsbank.
In mei van dit jaar publiceerde de Europese Commissie een lijst van projecten die door de EU waren ontwikkeld en die waren vernietigd in de laatste tien jaar door het Israëlische leger. Door de Israëlische aanvallen tussen 2001 en oktober 2011 werden 82 projecten vernietigd met een financiële strop van € 49.15 miljoen. Van dit bedrag was € 29.37 miljoen vertrekt door Europa en individuele landen van Europa.

Het Journaal is begonnen met het brengen van de Palestijnse kwestie – naast af en  toe een artikel in een nieuwsblad – laten we hopen dat de lente doorzet en dat we wat meer van het leven en de pijn van het Palestijnse volk op de Nederlandse tv mogen zien, zodat de gemiddelde Nederlander ook weet hoe het daar aan toe gaat. En misschien, heel misschien – ik weet dat ik nu erg ver ga – zal de persdienst van het Journaal eens een bericht brengen over de Moslims van Myanmar die vermoord worden, verkracht, uit hun huizen worden verjaagd en het land hals over kop moeten verlaten.
Maar ja, één (Journaal)vogel maakt nog geen zomer. Ik wacht nu op het volgende bericht, hoe de settlers stap voor stap het Palestijnse land stelen.

Israel Destroys EU Development Projects Worth €29 Million


Gaza International Airport was built with €9.5 million of funding from Germany, Spain and Sweden. Now children play in its ruins following an Israeli airstrike which devastated the airport. CC by Hatem Omar, Maan Images

Recently the European Commission published a list of the EU development projects that were destroyed in the last decade by the Israeli Army. The figures reveal that 82 projects with European involvement suffered damage or destruction as a result of Israeli attacks between 2001 and October 2011, with a total financial loss of €49.15 million.

These figures were published in response to a written parliamentary question by MEP Chris Davies from the ALDE group. They show that €29.37 million of funding for the projects was provided by the EU or its Member States. These well-meaning but ill-fated projects included schools, clinics and orphanages, a forensic laboratory for the counter-terrorism programme, Red Crescent ambulances, solid waste and waste water management facilities, the Ministry of Education building, a cultural centre and a peace project in Jenin. The list goes on.

Each item on this list is a development or emergency humanitarian response project, funded by Europe with the goal of improving life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Each project was funded by public money, by ordinary taxpayers across Europe. Many of them pick up responsibilities – such as providing basic healthcare, education and infrastructure – which under international law the Israeli Government is obliged to provide but which it fails to do. For example, Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Conventionsays that an occupying power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining the medical and hospital establishments and public health and hygiene, while Article 53 says that an occupying power is prohibited from destroying private or public property.

It is outrageous that Israelis quite literally rubbishing the development and humanitarian assistance of Europe, one of its closest partners. The European taxpayer has provided, on average, €3 million each year to improve living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the grand scheme of things perhaps it’s not a huge sum of money, but at a time when the economic crisis is being felt deeply by ordinary people across Europe, Israel’s destruction of these development projects demonstrates not only disregard for Palestinian living conditions but a real lack of respect for its European “partner.”

The human cost of infrastructure destruction

Along with the financial losses is the human cost. These development projects were each designed to improve living conditions and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. With each euro’s worth that is destroyed, Palestinian life becomes a little bit poorer. A Swedish-funded €1.1 million electricity network in Gaza powered hospitals and schools, homes and businesses. It was destroyed in 2008 during the 22-day military assault on Gaza that Israel calls Operation Cast Lead, plunging half a million people into darkness and drastically worsening conditions in the already besieged Gaza Strip.

The International Gaza Airport, which cost €16.1 million, stands out as the largest financial loss from the figures provided. Located at Rafah, the airport could handle 700,000 passengers a year and provided jobs for its 450 staff and 15 pilots. In 2001, during the Second Intifadah, the €9.5 million contribution by Spain, Germany and Sweden was blown away by Israel, along with the rest of the airport.

Despite these figures, EU-funded projects have tended to receive a certain degree of protection. On the other hand, Palestinian infrastructure has always been at a high risk of destruction. This is particularly the case in Area C of the West Bank where Israel carries out a policy of systematically destroying and reducing Palestinian infrastructure. This was strongly criticized in a recent internal EU report. The figures published by the Commission run only until October 2011 but since that time we are hearing of an increasing amount of EU-funded projects under threat of demolition. This disturbing trend could see even more of European taxpayers’ money earmarked for Palestinian development going down the drain.

Compensation for destroyed European infrastructure

So why is the EU staying silent on this issue? Of course, dialogue behind closed doors is crucial, but these latest figures show that European projects have suffered terrible destruction for over a decade. Quiet diplomacy is clearly not working. The EU could legitimately ask for compensation fromIsraelfor each European project destroyed. In his parliamentary question Chris Davies asked the Commission if any compensation had been sought from Israel, and if any had been recovered. The Commission stated that no compensation had been received, although the EU Representative Office in East Jerusalemhas protested to the Israeli Ministry of Defence and asked for compensation for the ongoing projects which were destroyed.

The EU-Israel relationship is governed by an Association Agreement and an Action Plan, which states that “Israel and the EU are committed to achieve closer political co-operation and dialogue on the basis of their common values: the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy, good governance and international humanitarian law.” It is time to see more of these common values from Israel.Israel must stop destroying civilian infrastructure in the OPT. The EU must stop allowing Israel to do so, and certainly in the case of European-funded infrastructure, we have a legitimate right to speak out.

If Israel is our friend, then the EU must be prepared to speak plainly and tell Israel that the situation is unacceptable. European projects, funded in good faith with taxpayers’ money cannot be wantonly destroyed by one of our closest partners.

(an article of May 2, 2012 / / 04.08.2012)

Israël vernielt Gaza-haven

GAZA – Israëlische tanks en bulldozers hebben in de nacht van maandag op dinsdag vernielingen aangericht op de bouwplaats waar Nederland de Palestijnse haven in Gaza aan het bouwen was.

Het uitverkoren stukje grond was een omheinde grote zandbak, enkele barakken en vooral de trots wapperende Franse en de Nederlanse vlaggen. Een groot bord aan het hek verkondigde dat hier de Gaza-haven gebouwd werd dankzij donaties van Nederland, Frankrijk en een lening van de Europese investeringsbank. Maar zelfs dit embryonale stadium van de haven is niet meer. Israëlische kogels doorzeefden eerst de prefab-kantoren. Tanks en bulldozers walsten daarna hek, gebouwen en meubilair plat.

Volgens het Israëlische leger misbruikten Palestijnen het terrein door er mortieren af te vuren op de nederzetting Netzarim. ,,Wellicht omdat ze wisten wat voor internationale reactie dit teweeg zou brengen”, zegt een legerwoordvoerster. Niemand is gearresteerd, mortieren of sporen daarvan zijn niet gevonden. De commandant had opdracht ‘de plek te vernietigen’ om verdere mortieraanvallen te voorkomen. Hij wist niet dat er Nederlandse gebouwen stonden, ,,en omdat het donker was had hij de vlaggen niet gezien”.

Goed ingelichte westerse diplomaten ontkennen ten stelligste de mogelijkheid van mortieraanvallen vanaf het terrein. Dat wordt 24 uur per dag bewaakt, en ligt ongunstig: de plek loopt landinwaarts op, er is slecht uitzicht.

Sinds de eerste plannen rust een vloek op het havenproject. Acht jaar geleden zegden Nederland en Frankrijk miljoenen euro’s toe. In 1996 hadden premier Kok en de toenmalige minister Van Mierlo enthousiast de symbolische eerste schep zand gestoken en een steen gelegd. Enkele jaren daarna kwam president Chirac op dezelfde plek om met groot ceremonieel een Franse steen bij te dragen. Onlangs ging minister Van Aartsen er langs.

Maar nog steeds bestond de Gaza-haven alleen maar uit drie barakken. Israël voerde aan dat de haven milieuvervuilend en onveilig zou zijn. De toegezegde Nederlandse donatie liep steeds hoger op, door de inflatiecorrecties en miljoenen-verslindende voorstudies. De laatste Nederlandse belofte stond op niet minder dan 22 miljoen euro.

De Nederlandse onderneming Ballast Nedam zou het project mede uitvoeren, maar werd steeds ongeduldiger door alle obstakels. In juli 2000 zag het er even naar uit dat de bouw eindelijk zou beginnen. Maar de intifada enkele maanden later legde het plan weer volledig stil.

Ali Sja’ath, de Palestijnse manager van het project, spreekt van ‘staatsterrorisme’: ,,Alleen het haventerrein was doelwit. De ruiten van het gebouw dat er pal naast ligt hadden zelfs geen krasje.”

De hele actie is er volgens Sja’ath op gericht om de economische onafhankelijkheid van de Palestijnen te torpederen. ,,Ze gunnen ons geen vliegveld en geen haven. Het is in hun belang dat we van de Israëlische havens blijven afnemen.”

Het Nederlandse ministerie van buitenlandse zaken zegt dat het kennis heeft genomen van de vernielingen en op het moment de achtergronden onderzoekt.

(een artikel van 19/09/01 / / 04.08.2012)

Legeropleiding VS waarschuwde voor ‘complete oorlog tegen de islam’

Amerikaanse militairen tijdens een oefening.

Het Amerikaanse leger heeft toekomstige leiders onderwezen dat een ‘complete oorlog’ tegen alle moslims nodig is om de Verenigde Staten te beschermen tegen islamitische terreur. ‘Hiroshima-tactieken’ zouden geoorloofd zijn.

Dat meldt WIRED, dat zijn hand heeft weten te leggen op cursusmateriaal. Het Amerikaanse tijdschrift berichtte vorige maand al over anti-islamitische retoriek binnen de legeropleiding. Nu blijkt uit nieuw verkregen documenten dat niet alleen de luitenant-colonel Matthew Dooley dergelijk onderwijs gaf.

Zelfbenoemde terreur-experts zouden zich het afgelopen decennium hebben opgewerkt – in het leger, maar ook bij inlichtendiensten en politie-eenheden. ‘Het is nu duidelijk dat er niet zoiets bestaat als ‘gematigde islam’, onderwees Dooley vorig jaar juli.

Barbaarse ideologie
‘De VS moeten hun dus duidelijk zijn: deze barbaarse ideologie wordt niet langer getolereerd. Als de islam niet verandert, zorgen wij dat hij zichzelf vernietigt.’ Daarbij mochten eventueel burgerslachtoffers vallen. De legerleiding heeft een onderzoek ingesteld, maar Dooley nog niet ontslagen.

In september onthulde WIRED dat nieuwkomers van de inlichtingendienst FBI te horen krijgen dat hoe vromer een moslim is, hoe groter de kans dat hij geweld gebruikt. Die destructieve neiging laat zich volgens het lesmateriaal onmogelijk ten goede keren. De documenten verklaren mogelijk waarom de FBI soms hard optreedt tegen moslimgroepen, ook wanneer die nauwelijks agressie tonen.

Gematigdheid ondenkbaar
‘Iedere oorlog tegen niet-gelovigen is geoorloofd’, verklaarde een FBI-presentatie over de sharia (de islamitische morele code) uit. ‘Gematigdheid is ondenkbaar als de Koran blijft gelden als het onfeilbare woord van Allah.’

Het materiaal noemt de islamitische ‘opstand’ alomvattend en verraderlijk. Moslims zouden fysiek geweld gebruiken, maar zich ook bedienen van subtiele aanvalsmethoden als immigratie en rechtszaken. Volgens statistieken uit de cursus wordt de islam steeds gewelddadiger, terwijl christenen en joden juist een tegenovergestelde ontwikkeling doormaken.

Eerder bleek al dat politie van onder meer de staat New York moslims preventief moslims heeft gescreend op terreurplannen, ook als zij nergens van werden verdacht.

(artikel van 11/05/12 / / 04.08.2012)