Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman on Human Rights Abuses Enabled by ‘War on Terror’

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman, one of three recipients who split the award this year, spoke in New York City at the Brecht Forum in September 2010 about state violence, targeted killings, and human rights abuses enabled by the so-called “War on Terror.” Democracy Now! was there and we bring you her address. Karman notes that by cooperating with the Yemeni government’s repression of its opponents, the United States “has transitioned from being the leader of the free world to a watch dog for tyrant regimes.”

Click here to watch today’s interview with reporter, Iona Craig, about Tawakkul Karman.

TAWAKKUL KARMAN: I want also to thank the IDH to give us this opportunity to come to the U.S. and to speak with American people and American government about the situation in Yemen. If IDH invite the 5 NGOs who are members in it with them to come to the high level American administration in Department State and White House and here in U.N., and speak also with NGOs. I want, just to speak briefly, about if IDH, about their report about the situation in Yemen, the human rights situation, especially after the counting of counter-terrorism. This report, you will find it out this hall. You can take it from there. Now, I will start to speak in Arabic because my English is still weak, and you have to pardon me, and I will—-I prefer to speak about my country in Arabic.

And we have, indeed, a situation in Yemen. Unfortunately, it’s going toward the unknown. As we follow up on this situation on the ground on what’s going on in Yemen, all the deterioration that is going on in the social life, the economic life, the political life, there is an increase in deterioration in all aspects. And this became even clearer and the situation is worse and worse since 2005. Democracy, the democratic margin became narrower and narrower since 2005, especially when it comes to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. As human rights activists, we started to become aware of this incredible and malicious attack by the government on all kinds of liberties and human rights; also, attacks against journalists, and also, as political activists.

The more we demand our rights and the more we demand the respect for human rights, the more, of course, the more attacks we receive, and the more the government attacks our rights and the rights of citizens. Although this malicious attack is being led by the Yemeni government, we really believed that we had an international partnership with the international community; with the partnership with the NGOs rather than the governments, and also with the governments. In order to promote democracy, the human rights, end combat and corruption in our country. This is a principle, a main part of our partnership in this society. We will be told that what is coming is better, however, in the last two years, the horizon looks very bleak and very scary in fact. I would give you some details in numbers. Let’s talk about the freedom of press for example. In 2005, there were 53 cases of violation of human rights against the press, according to statistics recorded by our network. In 2006, 69 violations. In 2007 112 violations. In 2009, 259 violations. These violations vary between kidnappings, shutting down newspapers or forced disappearance, detention, preventing them from receiving information, breaking their cameras and all sorts of offenses. This is just a really small description just for you to be able to judge what kind of democracy we have in our country and what kind of respect our citizens get from our government.

With this scary situation, we had problems also in the north and in the south. We have a war in the north in Sada’a. There are separatist movements in the south, peaceful settlement. And in the middle we have this war against activists, against journalists. This would not have been much of a problem because we were fighting all the time. We are always fighting for the freedom of our country, the freedom of our people, the freedom of press, the freedom of speech, and we have always fought these violations against human rights that the government of Yemen was committing. We counted on our fight inside the country the, but also on our partnerships outside the country. We counted on what the West was telling us, as well.

All the speech about the importance of human rights and good governance and democracy. However, when the War on Terror started, everything was over. Now we have a battle on two fronts; one against our government, and one against the governments that support our government in all the violations that it is committing against its citizens. And this is in summary a description of the title of the CCR’s report; Yemen and the United States government killing innocent people under the name of The War Against Terrorism. This is the message I would like to give our friends here from the civil society organizations here. This is the same message that we have delivered to the U.S. Administration, also to the U.N. and the European Union, that we are partners in the development of democracy, of the fight for human rights and for civil liberties. We also support the fight against terror, however, we do not accept that this fight against terror be carried out at the expense of innocent civilians. We do not accept that innocent civilians are killed and targeted under the cover of The War on Terror. This happened in 2009, in December, when tens of women were killed in Madiyaa in Abyan. They were killed by U.S. drone airplanes, with a shameful coordination with the Yemeni government, and this is exactly the same cover that is used all the time and still is used right now by the Yemeni government to oppress and strike against its political opponents, and especially the opponents in the south.

The areas or the principalities and provinces of the south are being continuously attacked and placed under siege, and the prisons are being filled with the militants from the settle movement, the peaceful settle movement, under the pretext that they belong to Al Qaeda or they are terrorists. And right now in Abyan, houses are being destroyed, the homes of innocent civilians—-militants—-are being destroyed under the cover, or the pretext of The War on Terror or belonging to Al Qaeda. When Al Qaeda members are moving around freely. So, these are attacks are—-the government is leading attacks the civil rights activists, against politicians or political party leaders, and basically, when carrying these attacks, they are actually attacking and killing our partnership with the West.

The War on Terror is important and necessary, however, we told the U.S. Administration—-we told them what I’m just going to say; the U.S. Administration is dealing with this problem, either by being naive, or pretending to be naive. This is what happens when the United States cooperates a government that starts targeting the so-called terrorists and killing innocent civilians, killing the activists by pretending they are terrorists while the terrorists are walking around free. They want to combat terrorism through security cooperation only. Their war against terror is not a cultural one. It did not extend to cultural—-it did not extend to reinforcing the values of tolerance and the values of dialogue—-living together. They are killing people based on false intelligence reports as I told you happened in the incident of Magala.

The United States wagers or counts on its partnership with the government, when in fact they have partnerships in the civil society and political leaders in other areas that really enough for great solution to the problem of terrorism. We admit, we recognize the right of the United States in putting pressure on the government to grant rights and liberties. Its role in supporting a civil society organization’s events. While I think this is a good pressure, I believe this is a very superficial effort, because, up till now, it has not taken any concrete step to support organizations, political parties and journalists, members of the civil society to own their own media outlet. Only this way will the real victim, the Yemeni citizen, the simple Yemeni citizen, be able to spread—-to learn about and spread this culture of tolerance, of dialogue and of living together. The United States now became, with it’s coalition and cooperation with the Yemeni regime, who oppresses the opposition in the south; the United States, instead of supporting the opposition, now the United States transitioned from being the leader of the free world to a watch dog for tyrant regimes. This is, in summary, a description of what’s going on in Yemen and we can discuss later a number of solutions that we propose in order to solve these problems and create a more stable Yemen where the future is bright. Thank you.

( / 08.10.2011)

Israel to Assad: We Will Bomb Gaza, Whole of Lebanon if Tel Aviv Attacked


Israel has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that should Tel Aviv be attacked, then it will retaliate by bombing the Gaza Strip and the whole of Lebanon.

Israel’s NFC website reported that the Jewish state’s government relayed this message to the Syrian president through European intelligence circles.

These sources said that seeing as Tel Aviv is Israel’s economic and financial hub, a retaliation for an attack against it, by Hizbullah, Hamas, or Syria, will not be limited to Syria, but all of Lebanon and Gaza.

NFC reported Israeli military circles as saying that the Jewish state’s message to Assad “is clear in that Damascus’ fate, should it be targeted, will not be different than Lebanon’s.”

These revelations came in light of an Iranian report that Assad had warned that he would “set fire” to the Middle East if foreign forces launched a military strike on his country and would ask for Hizbullah’s help to attack Israel.

An Arab source told Iran’s Fars news Agency that Assad made the warning to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during his visit to Damascus.

“If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv,” the Syrian president said.

On Thursday, an official source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry denied these reports, adding that “no messages were conveyed from or to anyone during the meeting.”

The Iranian news agency did not indicate the date of the meeting between the two o

( / 08.10.2011)



Settler homes approved in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AFP) —  The Jerusalem municipality has given the green light for the construction of 11 new apartments in the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the annexed east of the city, a councilor told AFP on Saturday.

“The municipality approved at the beginning of the week the construction of 11 apartments, as part of a project of 300 housing units supposed to be approved section by section,” Pepe Alalou of the leftist Meretz party said.

Israel on September 27 approved a plan to build 1,100 new homes in a Jewish-only settlement, prompting an angry reaction from the international community and Palestinian officials, who said it amounted to a direct rejection of international efforts to restart peace talks.

Both the US State Department and the White House issued strong condemnation after Israel’s interior ministry said the new housing units in Gilo in East Jerusalem had been cleared by its district planning committee.

Russia, the US, United Nations and European Union — members of the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace — launched a bid to bring the sides back to negotiations as President Mahmoud Abbas submitted Palestine’s application for membership of the UN in September.

The proposal included a return to negotiations within a month, credible terms on borders and security in three months, and a deal by the end of 2012.

Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal said Saturday that “the Quartet should realize that the aim of negotiations is to end the occupation and that settlements deepen the occupation.”

The proposal did not mention a settlement freeze.

The issue of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to peace negotiations and the implementation of a two state solution.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and illegally annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community. All settlements built on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

Some 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians in the same territory.

( / 08.10.2011)

Israel Real Democratic Rights: Jews are taught to hate and fear Palestinians

In his speech to Congress on 24 May 2011 Prime Minister Netanyahuboasted that “Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.” This is, of course, a variation on the oft cited claim that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Leaving aside places like Lebanon and now potentially Tunisia and Egypt, one can ask just how “real” are these democratic rights the Prime Minister claims for Israel’s Arabs? Here is some recent evidence that speaks to this question.

1. At the end of September 2011 the Israeli government announced “a plan to displace 30,000 native Bedouin Arabs [all of whom are Israeli citizens]…from their homes [in the Negev].” This would constitute “the biggest dispossession plan of Palestinians issued by Israel since 1948. It would forcibly relocate about half of the Bedouin population from their existing villages, which are older than the State of Israel itself….”

Why should Israel do this to the Bedouin? Is it to facilitate their enjoyment of their “real democratic rights”? Well not quite. According to head of the Regional Council of Ramat Ha-Negev, a Zionist settlement in the region, the reason goes like this, “I want the Negev to be Jewish….Jewish settlement must grow, must continue…..What do you mean by ‘they [the Bedouin] also have rights’! You know what-after all this it is no longer possible to conceal the core problem, which is the struggle over the land. Who does this land belong to-us or them?”

2. At the Beginning of October 2011 leaders of the Jewish settler movement announced their intention “to turn Palestinian population centers into another Srebrenica.” This was their reaction to the prospect of international recognition of a Palestinian state. Initiating Balkan style killing fields would represent a marked escalation of ongoing lower level terror tactics which have seen the destruction of Palestinian crops, the harassment of Palestinian adults and children, the practice of arson against mosques, and the occasional outright murder. While this threat was directed mainly at the Palestinians of the West Bank, the Israelis are bound by international law to see to their civil rights as well. And since Netanyahu’s vaunted claim implies Israel’s civilized, law-abiding status relative to the Arab states, that Palestinian population must be taken account of.

To show the extent of their respect for the rights of the Palestinians, settler rabbis have evoked the memory of their American-Israeli “saint and hero,” Barach Goldstein, whose claim to lasting fame is the massacre of Muslims at prayer in Hebron back in 1994. And, there has been much recapitulating of the message delivered in October 2010 by “the spiritual leader of Shas, the powerful religious political party….that the status of non-Jews is similar to that of beasts of burden….” And just how many “real democratic rights” do the animals of Israel have?

3. Just in case you think that these threats are hyperbole, take a look at reports and video (watch below) on the recent pogrom-like violence near the settlement of Anatot. On 30 September 2011 Palestinians along with Israeli allies came to help a Palestinian farmer plant trees on land he owns near the settlement. They were attacked and beaten by settlers some of whom were armed policemen. The attackers have been accurately described as “nearly a lynch-mob.” Then on 3 October 2011 a mosque in the upper Galilee village of Tuba -Zangariyye was set on fire by arsonists who left behind the message “Price Tag.” This is a terrorist tactic used by Israeli right wing extremists. Every time the Israeli government gets in the way of their racist and expansionist ambitions (which really is not often enough) they retaliate with acts of terror against Palestinians.

Woeful Ignorance

The truth is that Arab-Israelis have always been second-class citizens, suffering systematic and state sanctioned discrimination. Most of them are effectively segregated out from the majority Israeli Jewish citizenry. In this way their “real democratic rights” are rendered largely symbolic. The only reason they are allowed to vote is because their votes cannot change the system that discriminates against them. The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are even more vulnerable. They are not citizens at all and, even if Israel annexes the West Bank they never will be. This is because making them citizens would greatly enhance the likelihood that Arab-Israeli votes might, in fact, become sufficient to alter the system. The Zionists will never let that happen. If the choice is between democracy and keeping Israel a Jewish state, the Israeli establishment will jettison democracy without thinking twice. In fact, there is a portion of Israeli Jews who have already jettisoned any regard for “real democratic rights,” even for themselves.

It is interesting to note that 95% of the U.S. Congress seems oblivious to all this. Indeed, a good number of them recently went off on an all expenses paid (illegal) junket to Israel which objective observers might consider the equivalent of giving material aid to a terrorist organization. There is good reason to believe that this oblivious state of mind is not shared by many of their constituents, who are slowly but surely being educated about the criminal nature of Israeli behavior. Unfortunately these constituents have not, as of yet, made their representatives’ slavish attachment to Zionist lobby money and influence a voting issue. When will they do so? Perhaps soon after it is brought home to them that Israel, the “democracy,” has an unsavory resemblance to Alabama or Georgia in the 1930s and 1940s. If the settler rabbis have their way this likeness will grow rapidly and thus become harder to hide. Through their sacrilegious misreading of the Talmud, these holy men appear anxious to bless lynching on all days of the week except the Sabbath.

It is not only American Congressmen who are ignorant of Israel’s deteriorating national character. One might ask just how many Israeli Jews know how close they are to the precipice of pogrom violence or worse. Some of course do. In a 14 June 2011 piece by Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman they tell us “We believe that unless immediate, serious and dramatic action is taken to improve the situation of the Arab minority and majority-minority relations, great dangers are in store for Israel. It is no exaggeration to say that domestic stability, Israeli democracy and future Israeli-Palestinian peace could all be undermined by a continued deterioration in Arab-Jewish relations in Israel.” But polls of Israelis show that the majority, caught up as they are in the dominant culture of victimhood and fear of the Arabs, are either ignorant of or unconcerned about the dangers of which Peleg and Waxman warn. Indeed, most of them want the Arabs segregated or just kicked out and therefore have no problem with their society’s deteriorating majority-minority relations.

The National Skinner Box

All of this raises some serious issues:

1. For most citizens the national environment is like a great big Skinner Box. In other words it is a hothouse of indoctrination. Americans were taught to hate and fear communists, Russians were taught to hate and fear capitalists, and Israeli Jews are taught to hate and fear Palestinians. Nation states do a good job at such indoctrination-making it part and parcel of the acculturation process. And, under the right circumstances, whole populations can easily move from hatred and fear to actual mayhem.

2. This sort of deep seated indoctrination results in nationwide habits of thought that are remarkably hard to change. Think of the inertia of a large body, say a planet, moving through space. It is going to take a lot of force to overcome that inertia, usually force of catastrophic intensity. To put it another way, whole populations trained to seeing the world one way, usually do not shift perceptions unless something really bad happens to them. That something can be military defeat, deep and unbridgeable societal divides leading to civil war, or the severe costs of isolation and economic boycott visited on them by the outside world. The severity of these forces are testimony to just how stubborn indoctrinated populations can be.

Any way you look at it, the situation for those Palestinians under Israeli domination is likely to get worse before it gets better. And it is going to take a force of catastrophic intensity to really change Israeli behavior. My money is on BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

( / 08.10.2011)

Fatah official: Quartet should condemn settlements

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The success of an upcoming statement by the Middle East Quartet on Sunday will depend on whether it condemns Israeli settlement building, a Fatah official said.

Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal said Saturday that “the Quartet should realize that the aim of negotiations is to end the occupation and that settlement deepens the occupation.”

The official said that the Quartet is expected to release a statement about negotiations after a meeting in Brussels on Sunday.

The Palestinian demand that illegal settlement building stops is not a “precondition”, he said.

The issue of recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state”  would probably not be included in the Quartet statement, he added, as European countries believe in the separation of state and religion.

The European Union does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state because it would contradict the principles of democracy and social equality which form a basis for European politics, Nazzal stated.

Russia, the US, United Nations and European Union — members of the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace — launched a bid to bring the sides back to negotiations as President Mahmoud Abbas submitted Palestine’s application for membership of the UN in September.

The proposal included a return to negotiations within a month, credible terms on borders and security in three months, and a deal by the end of 2012.

The proposal did not mention a settlement freeze.

( / 08.10.2011)

Listening to Somalia

How  sad the images are ! It is as if we were looking at the past, at the  Biafra famine of the 1970s. Almost half a century later, it is as if  nothing has changed ; as if we have learned nothing beyond pious UN  resolutions. We were told that one of our main objectives in the new  millennium was to put an end to famine around the world. Yet we are far  from that goal. The basic human right of having enough to eat to survive  is still a dream for millions of African people today.

Our Somalian sisters and brothers in humanity are in urgent need of  help today. Their strategically located country has gone through recent  painful experiences and ordeals. Where is the justice in the face of  this unjust fate ? What has gone wrong in Somalia ? After poverty,  unrest, civil war, and the takeover by radical factions (acting for or  against Islam), we have reached the final stage : extreme poverty that  is killing millions of children, women and old people. In our living  rooms, even while fasting and waiting for our food to be served, we  stare at the heartbreaking pictures. How is it possible ? Is this our  world ? The people of Somalia are waiting for our hearts to open, for  our consciences to awaken. Shame on us if we fast in order both to come  closer to God and to get a taste of poverty, while showing complete  disregard for the poor and the starving of our planet !


Somalia needs our solidarity. It would be good for us, as Muslims, to  rethink the way with deal with zakat, sadaqa and even the slaughter of  sheep during Eid al Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice). This would be a way  of reminding the faithful that there can be no faith without concern for  the poor. The point is not only to show solidarity by assisting the  needy, but also to show respect by helping people become autonomous and  free from others’ charity.

These are exceptional times. Muslims should take the lead by paying  their zakât (purifying social tax) and their sadaqat (voluntary alms) to  organizations that promote projects in the countries like Somalia. It  should be both emergency support and long-term commitment to social  services, schools, local development projects, etc. In two months, the  greatest Islamic festival will take place. Instead of slaughtering  millions of sheep, Muslims are allowed to send an equal amount of money  to Somalia to feed the starving. These individual and small-scale ways  of supporting the people of Somalia are not going to change the  situation, but they do offer a humanly and spiritually vital means of  personal involvement. They gave a sense of human communion and  individual commitment that should nurture the life of dignified women  and men throughout our fractured world.

The Somali people do not need our charity however. As we are  mobilizing to help them to survive, we should turn towards our  respective governments and ask them not only to assist the country now  (by sending few million dollars or food), but also to act in a  responsible way with viable long-term strategies. What is unfair about  the situation in Somalia is not the fate of its people, but our  continued and unjustifiably passivity and acceptance of an inhuman  economic order. It is too easy to blame “their destiny” and to weep over  “their fate.” What is wrong is a global system within which rich  countries throw away thousands of tons of wasted food while others are  starving to death. Instead of useless UN resolutions, and fine words of  solidarity, we need to undertake serious reforms of the economic order,  radical reform.

People are celebrating what some analysts call the “Arab spring.”  Arabs are freeing themselves from political dictatorships and years of  alienation. It would be good to see, as a response to the plight of  Somalia (and so many other situations of extreme poverty), Westerners  freeing themselves from a mindset that takes such poverty (and their own  prosperity) for granted. How refreshing it would be to witness a  “Western fall,” where the hearts and the souls of the rich raise to the  basic human awareness that tells them that their wealth is a shame if it  is acquired through the undignified treatment of two thirds of  humanity


(Facebook / Tariq Ramadan / 08.10.2011)

EU parliament proposes aid hike to Palestinians

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — European parliamentarians proposed a 100 million euro ($134 million) increase in aid to Palestine in 2012, according to a press release Friday.

The European Parliament budgets committee asked for the hike in assistance to Palestinians to be put to a parliament vote on Oct. 26, the EP press statement said.

( / 08.10.2011)

Syrian forces fire on 50,000 mourning slain Kurd

DAMASCUS (AFP) — Syrian security forces killed at least two people when they opened fire on 50,000 people at the funeral of assassinated Kurdish opposition figure Meshaal Tamo on Saturday, activists said.

The shooting, which also wounded several others, came a day after nationwide rallies against President Bashar al-Assad and in support of a newly formed opposition front, the Syrian National Council, of which Tamo was a member.

“Two people were killed during a shooting against the funeral procession of the martyr Meshaal Tamo in the city of Qamishli,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement, adding several others were hurt.

The Local Coordination Committees, a pro-democracy activist network, had previously reported that one person was killed and several others were wounded at the funeral.

The funeral for Tamo, who was gunned down in public in Qamishli in the north, turned into a mass rally with more than 50,000 demonstrators calling for fall of the Assad regime, the activists said.

Tamo’s son and a fellow activist, Zahida Rashkilo of the Kurdish Future Party, were also wounded in the attack, they said.

Tamo founded the liberal Kurdish Future Party, which considers Kurds an integral part of Syria, and had been recently released after three and a half years in prison.

His assassination also sparked indignation abroad.

In Austria, 11 opponents of the Assad regime were arrested overnight after they invaded the Syrian embassy in Vienna and demonstrated on the balcony, police said Saturday.

In Lebanon, 50 activists including Kurds gathered outside the Syrian embassy in Beirut amid tight security to demand Assad step down.

The United States on Friday said Assad’s regime is escalating its tactics against the opposition with bold attacks on its leaders, while France said it was “shocked” by the news of the murder.

“This is a clear escalation of regime tactics,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, referring to reports of Tamo’s murder, as well as the beating on Friday of former MP Riad Seif.

Nuland said both opposition leaders were attacked in broad daylight.

France condemned the regime’s “brutal violence” in its crackdown on the opposition which, according to activists, left 16 people dead during countrywide anti-regime rallies after the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

“We are shocked by the assassination of opposition figure Meshaal Tamo… and by the attack on opposition figure Riad Seif,” a French foreign ministry spokesman said.

Seif, a former lawmaker, had to be given hospital treatment after being beaten outside a mosque in the capital’s commercial neighborhood of Medan.

The murder of Tamo was also condemned “in the strongest terms” on Saturday by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The Local Coordination Committees on Saturday accused the regime of trying to “physically eliminate” opposition figures.

“The regime is countering the revolution with physical liquidation, taking advantage of the laxity of the international community which is slow to take (proper) action in the face of crimes committed against the Syrian people.”

The official SANA news agency reported “the assassination,” but gave a different account of Tamo’s death. It said he was killed “by gunmen in a black car who fired at his car.”

In the face of international condemnation, Syria’s deputy foreign minister on Friday said more than 1,100 people had been killed by “terrorists” in the revolt that has shaken the country since March.

“Syria is grappling with terrorist threats,” Faysal Mekdad said in a speech to the 47-state UN Human Rights Council.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, meanwhile, said at least 187 children were among the estimated total of more than 2,900 people killed since Syria launched its brutal crackdown on dissent.

As in previous weeks, anti-regime rallies on Friday, which were held under the banner “The Syrian National Council is our representative, mine, yours and that of all Syrians,” were met with deadly force, with 16 reported killed.

Demonstrators in the restive Damascus district of Barzeh carried slogans affirming their “complete support” for the SNC, according to videos on YouTube, while protesters in Homs chanted “the people want the fall of the president”.

In Daraa, southern Syria, thousands trampled on giant Russian and Chinese flags, in a sign of discontent at the two UN Security Council members blocking a resolution calling for “targeted measures” against Assad.

On the diplomatic front, Russia said it would host opposition figures next Tuesday after resident Dmitry Medvedev Medvedev unexpectedly piled pressure on Damascus.

“If the Syrian leadership is unable to undertake these reforms, it will have to go. But this is something that has to be decided not by NATO or individual European countries but by the people and leadership of Syria,” he said.

Meanwhile, some 90 members of Syria’s opposition, led by the SNC, met Saturday in Stockholm to thrash out their strategy for their struggle against the Assad regime.

“Members of the opposition approached us for help to set up a meeting with the opposition’s different factions,” Olof Palme International Center secretary general Jens Orback said in a statement.

“They were looking for methods on how to agree on certain issues in order to make progress in their struggle,” he explained.

The conference’s participants are expected to announce the results of their meetings at a press conference on Monday

( / 08.10.2011)

Palestinians stepping up anti-Israel boycott

Fatah official says Palestinians planning to boycott all Israeli products, not just settlement goods as well as working to promote academic boycott, holding non-violent popular protests A Fatah official and advisor to the Palestinian president announced Monday that the Palestinians are stepping up their non-violent campaign against Israel.

Sabri Saydam said that the Palestinians will embark on a campaign via social
networks which aims to boycott all Israeli products, not just goods manufactured
beyond the Green Line.

But the campaign will go even further than that, Saydam said. “We will increase pressure on Israeli academic institutions by demanding that universities worldwide, and especially in countries that support us, to sever academic ties with Israeli institutions,” he said.

Palestinians burn settlement goods (Archive photo: AP)
Palestinians burn settlement goods

The Fatah official added that the Palestinians will also organize popular protests “more civilized than the ones in the Arab world” stressing that all actions will not be violent. The activity will be focused inside Palestinian towns, to gain the support of foreign activists, and avoid friction with Israeli forces.

“The non-violent popular struggle will manifest itself in various forms which will illustrate the Palestinian people’s suffering without giving Israel excuses to export its internal crisis,” Saydam said.

The Palestinians are hoping to boost coordination between various worldwide
campaigns. The campaigns may also serve to pressure the UN Security Council into
endorsing the Palestinian bid for statehood, he said.

However, Saydam stressed that while the new campaign calls for the severing of commercial ties with Israel, there is no threat to the security cooperation between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

“The campaign is not about security or security cooperation with Israel, but about obtaining security for our people,” Saydam said

( / 08.10.2011)


Yemen president says will leave power in coming days

SANAA (Reuters) — Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he would leave power in the coming days after the country has been largely paralyzed by nearly nine months of mass protests against his 33 year rule.

“I reject power and I will continue to reject it, and I will be leaving power in the coming days,” he said in a speech on state television.

Saleh has been clinging to his position while opposition and ruling party representatives cast about for a formula to see through a transition-of-power deal.

( / 08.10.2011)