Palestinian factions: No one is authorized to waive right of return



GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian national and Islamic factions and popular committees have disowned on Thursday PA president Mahmoud Abbas’ statement in which he waived the right of return.

Different Palestinian national and Islamic bodies organized a sit-in outside the PLO Department of Refugee Affairs headquarters northern Gaza Strip, where they stressed their adherence to the right of return.

The participants held banners reading “the right of return is a sacred right, individually and collectively, under which there is no statute of limitations”.

Head of the Popular Committee for Refugees Affairs in northern Gaza stated that waiving the right of return is a betrayal to the Palestinian cause and people.

He stressed that the Palestinian people are not committed to any agreement signed by Abbas in which he waives their legitimate rights. The continued negotiations with the occupier are only a waste of time and effort, he added.

Abbas and his negotiating team do not represent anyone of the Palestinian people, he said, calling on the PLO to bear its responsibilities towards the Palestinian right of return.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

PFLP calls for activating armed resistance in WB



RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has called for activating the armed resistance in occupied West Bank to deter Israeli forces and settlers’ attacks.

Zulfikar Suergo, PFLP central committee member, called on resistance factions to confront settlers’ attacks and Israeli military raids. He stressed the need to provide an armed protection to the Palestinian people.

He pointed out that the continued negotiations and security coordination with the occupier provided a cover to the Israeli crimes in West Bank and restricted the Palestinian people’s ability to repel the Israeli settlers’ provocative attacks and settlement expansion.

Suergo renewed, in a press release on Wednesday, the PFLP’s position against the PA absurd negotiations with the Israeli authorities, calling for an end to the security coordination.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Jordan opens skies for Israel drone attacks on Syria: Report

File photo shows an Israeli Air Force Heron TP surveillance drone, known as the IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) Eitan.

File photo shows an Israeli Air Force Heron TP surveillance drone, known as the IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) Eitan.

“King Abdullah’s decision has opened two new routes to Israeli drones; a southern route from the Israeli airbase in Negev and a northern route via Jordan’s capital city, Amman. The routes allow Israeli drones to avoid accessing Syrian airspace through southern Lebanon, which could draw a response from Lebanese resistant movement, Hezbollah.”

A new report says Jordan has given the go-ahead to Tel Aviv to use its airspace for spying on Syria and attacking its industrial facilities.

French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Monday that Jordan has opened two corridors in its airspace to Israeli Air Force drones seeking to monitor the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Quoting western military officials in the Middle East, the report added that the Israeli drones “can hit a target anywhere in Syria.”

The permission was granted to Israel by King Abdullah II in March during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Jordan, which came immediately after his first trip as president to Israel, the report added.

King Abdullah’s decision has opened two new routes to Israeli drones; a southern route from the Israeli airbase in Negev and a northern route via Jordan’s capital city, Amman. The routes allow Israeli drones to avoid accessing Syrian airspace through southern Lebanon, which could draw a response from Lebanese resistant movement, Hezbollah, Le Figaro added.

On April 4, the Syrian government warned Jordan that it was “playing with fire” by allowing the US and other countries to train and arm militants seeking to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad on its soil.

The Syrian warning came after US and other Western and Arab officials said Jordan has been facilitating arms shipments and hosting training camps for militants operating in Syria since October 2012.

Syria has been experiencing a deadly unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are reportedly giving financial and military support to the militants.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Syrian regime moves prisoners to likely targets of western military strikes

GAZIANTEP, TURKEY // Syrian authorities have moved prisoners from their jail cells to installations the government believes could be targets of western military strikes, pro-democracy activists in Damascus and the opposition said yesterday.

A UN chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus.

A UN chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus.

Residents in the Syrian capital yesterday described seeing on Wednesday night fully loaded busses moving from the military court in Damascus to Mezzeh airbase on the southwestern tip of the city, a likely target for US missiles.

Across Damascus yesterday there were other signs of residents bracing for possible US-military strikes. People stockpiled food, water and fuel, with regime supporters and opponents alike fearful an already brutal war may be about to dramatically escalate.

The plight of thousands of prisoners held in a vast network of security facilities throughout the country is a major concern for their families and opposition activists.

“People are really scared about the prisoners’ safety, and that the US will attack places where the prisoners are held,” one pro-democracy activist said. “They are afraid because military bases are in built-up areas so civilians may be caught in the attacks.

“There is a lot of fear that prisoners will take the brunt of the attacks, and they have all seen the civilians killed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition also warned that President Bashar Al Assad’s forces were preparing to use the prisoners as human shields.

“Assad’s fascist regime is amassing detained activists and civilians in prisons inside military locations that may be potential targets for foreign military forces,” it said in a statement today.

“Using civilians as human shields is a blatant breach of International Humanitarian Law, and those responsible must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.”

Thousands of protesters, rebels and dissidents have been arrested and held in detention since the start of the uprising in March 2011. Many of them remain missing, and are believed to be inside a shadowy network of security branches and military compounds.

The Syrian authorities have never allowed independent international organisations to inspect detention centres run by feared secret police units.

Elsewhere in Damascus yesterday, residents stayed away from work, opting instead to join the longer than normal queues at petrol stations and bakeries.

The Syrian government called the stockpiling of bread “unjustified”, the state-run news agency Sana reported.

Syrian prime minister Wael Al Halaqi said state institutions should be on full alert to deal with any emergency. “The government is working hard to guarantee food and medical supplies and there are strategic reserves of all products and bakeries will continue to work round the clock to meet citizens’ demands,” he said, according to Sana.

Military forces in and around the capital were on the move, some residents said. Major checkpoints were reduced in size or taken away altogether, especially those manned by members of ultra-loyalist security units.

“Everyone is expecting the strikes soon, and there have been heavy military movements. The big checkpoint at Mezzeh military airport has been reduced,” said a resident of the city, describing the usually heavily manned roadblock at the entrance to the facility.

“To be honest, everyone is afraid, no matter what side they are on. The regime is afraid of being hit and the anti-regime people are afraid the security will become even more brutal in response,” he said.

Rumours have been circulating that key regime figures have fled to Dubai and that President Bashar Al Assad has gone into hiding in Iran.

More plausibly perhaps, high ranking security officers are said to have moved from their usual homes and offices, setting up temporary operation centres in schools and other civilian buildings, unlikely to be on a pre-prepared US-target list.

As Western powers contemplate a strike, some activists in Syria’s opposition are having second thoughts about a possible US-led intervention.

Having demanded – and at times pleaded – for foreign military help in their fight against the army, air force and militia groups loyal Mr Al Assad, opposition activists and fighters now fear strikes could escalate rather than end the conflict.

“I’ve heard mixed reactions from people and I feel divided myself now that the Americans might intervene militarily,” said an activist from Qusayr, a village on the border with Lebanon and the scene of heavy fighting between the rebel Free Syrian Army and regime troops, backed by Hizbollah. “Syrians are worried about what is going to happen and are suspicious of the timing.”

During the June offensive there, in which regime forces besieged and then regained control over rebel-held Qusayr, many in Syria’s opposition had called for foreign military aid.

“I’m personally divided about US intervention, I know we have been calling for it again and again but now we’re worried. I suppose that it might get worse. For me it can’t get any worse,” the activist said. Members of his family were killed during the assault on Qusayr, with others fleeing.

Activists who responded to the poison gas attacks of last Wednesday in the eastern and south-western suburbs of Damascus, which killed hundreds of people and prompted the US administration to consider direct intervention, were more equivocal in supporting strikes.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been happy about it. They just want this over with and they want Assad to be hit,” said an opposition activist who helped collect samples from the corpses of those killed by poison gases in Moadamiya, south-west of the capital.

“What worries us is that the Americans will just do a small symbolic strike and that Assad will be more brutal with us.

“If the Americans are going to do something, let it help us change this regime,” he said.

Rebels involved with the Free Syrian Army were similarly supportive of US involvement, although radical Islamic factions aligned with Al Qaeda have been opposed, insisting they can win without the Americans.

“The US can do more damage to Assad’s artillery, missiles, chemical weapons and aircraft in two hours than we can do in two months,” said a member of a rebel brigade fighting in Latakia.

“Not having heavy weapons has been a real weakness for us, so a US strike could hit the things we are not able to attack ourselves, I hope it happens and I hope it comes soon,” he said.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Repelling Evil with Good and Winning the Hearts of Enemies


Quran and Tasbeeh Beads Light Blue

By Abu Amina Elias for

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Allah has praised those who respond to evil with good deeds. Those who repel evil with good will find that their enemies will become their friends.

Allah said:

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ

Not equal are the good deed and the bad deed. Repel evil by that which is better, and then the one who is hostile to you will become as a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient and none is granted it except one having a great fortune.

Surah Fussilat 41:34-35

Ibn Abbas said regarding this verse:

أَمَرَ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِالصَّبْرِ عِنْدَ الْغَضَبِ وَالْحِلْمِ عِنْدَ الْجَهْلِ وَالْعَفْوِ عِنْدَ الْإِسَاءَةِ فَإِذَا فَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ عَصَمَهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَخَضَعَ لَهُمْ عَدُوُّهُمْ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ

Allah commands the believers to be patient when they feel angry, to be forbearing when confronted with ignorance, and to forgive when they are mistreated. If they do this, Allah will save them from Satan and subdue their enemies to them until they become like close friends.

Source: Tafseer Ibn Kathir 41:34

Allah has commanded the believers in several verses to repel evil with good by being patient, merciful, and forgiving when confronted with mistreatment.

Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ

Those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them, secretly and publicly, and repel evil with good, for those will have the good end.

Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:22

And Allah said:

أُولَٰئِكَ يُؤْتَوْنَ أَجْرَهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ بِمَا صَبَرُوا وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and they repel evil with good, and they spend from what We have provided them.

Surah Al-Qasas 28:54

And Allah said:

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ

Repel evil with what is better. We are most knowing of what they describe.

Surah Al-Muminun 23:96

And Allah said:

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

They are those who spend in charity during ease and hardship and who restrain their anger and pardon the people, for Allah loves those who are good.

Surah Ali Imran 3:134

The Prophet has taught us to respond with good deeds to those who are evil to us.

Uqbah ibn Amir reported: I met the Messenger of Allah and I began speaking, taking his hand and saying, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me about virtuous deeds.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يَا عُقْبَةُ صِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ وَأَعْطِ مَنْ حَرَمَكَ وَأَعْرِضْ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

O Uqbah, reconcile whoever cuts you off, give to whoever deprives you, and turn away from whoever wrongs you.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 16883, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

يَا عُقْبَةُ بْنَ عَامِرٍ صِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ وَأَعْطِ مَنْ حَرَمَكَ وَاعْفُ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

O Uqbah ibn Amr, maintain relations with those who cut you off, give to those who deprive you, and pardon those who wrong you.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 16999, Grade: Sahih

We should try to maintain good relations with those who severe ties with us, to give to those who do not give to us, and to forgive those who oppress us. The truly virtuous person is not the one who is good to those who are good to him, but rather the one who is good to those who are evil to him.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَيْسَ الْوَاصِلُ بِالْمُكَافِئِ وَلَكِنْ الْوَاصِلُ الَّذِي إِذَا قُطِعَتْ رَحِمُهُ وَصَلَهَا

The one who keeps good relations is not the one who recompenses the good done to him. Rather, the one who keeps good relations is the one who does so despite having been cut off by them.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5645, Grade: Sahih

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

لَيْسَ الْوَصْلُ أَنْ تَصِلَ مَنْ وَصَلَكَ ذَلِكَ الْقِصَاصُ وَلَكِنَّ الْوَصْلَ أَنْ تَصِلَ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ

The reconciler is not the one who maintains relations with those who are good to him, for that is merely reciprocation. Rather, the reconciler is one who maintains relations with those who cut him off.

Source: Shu’b Al-Iman 7467

There are many instances in the life of the Prophet in which he would be good to those who were evil to him.

Anas ibn Malik reported:

كُنْتُ أَمْشِي مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَعَلَيْهِ بُرْدٌ نَجْرَانِيٌّ غَلِيظُ الْحَاشِيَةِ فَأَدْرَكَهُ أَعْرَابِيٌّ فَجَبَذَ بِرِدَائِهِ جَبْذَةً شَدِيدَةً قَالَ أَنَسٌ فَنَظَرْتُ إِلَى صَفْحَةِ عَاتِقِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَقَدْ أَثَّرَتْ بِهَا حَاشِيَةُ الرِّدَاءِ مِنْ شِدَّةِ جَبْذَتِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ مُرْ لِي مِنْ مَالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي عِنْدَكَ فَالْتَفَتَ إِلَيْهِ فَضَحِكَ ثُمَّ أَمَرَ لَهُ بِعَطَاءٍ

I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, while he was wearing a Najrani sheet with a thick border. A desert Arab overtook the Prophet and forcibly pulled his clothes. I looked at the shoulder of the Prophet and I saw that the edge of his shirt had left a mark because of the strength of his pull. The man said: O Muhammad, order them to give me something from Allah’s wealth which you have! The Prophet turned and he smiled, then he ordered that he be given charity.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5738, Grade: Sahih

On one occasion, the Prophet was cursed by a group of Jews and he reacted with patience and forbearance.

Aisha reported: A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet and when they were admitted they said, “Death be upon you.” I said to them, “Rather death and the curse of Allah be upon you!” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ فِي الْأَمْرِ كُلِّهِ

O Aisha, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6528, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

In another narration, the Prophet said:

يَا عَائِشَةُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفُحْشَ وَالتَّفَحُّشَ

O Aisha, Allah does not love harsh words or those who use them.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2165, Grade: Sahih

On another occasion, the Prophet was asked to invoke curses upon those who were oppressing the Muslims and he refused to do so.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was told, “O Messenger of Allah, pray against the idolaters!” So the Prophet said:

إِنِّي لَمْ أُبْعَثْ لَعَّانًا وَإِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ رَحْمَةً

Verily, I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather I was only sent as a mercy.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2599, Grade: Sahih

Allah has mentioned that it is the practice of the prophets to patiently the abuse of those who wrong them.

Allah said:

قَالَتْ لَهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ إِن نَّحْنُ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَمُنُّ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَمَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نَّأْتِيَكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نَتَوَكَّلَ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَقَدْ هَدَانَا سُبُلَنَا وَلَنَصْبِرَنَّ عَلَىٰ مَا آذَيْتُمُونَا وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ

Their messengers said to them: We are only men like you, but Allah confers favor upon whom He wills of His servants. It has never been for us to bring you evidence except by permission of Allah, and upon Allah let the believers rely. Why should we not rely upon Allah while He has guided us to our ways? We will surely be patient against whatever harm you cause us, and let them depend upon Allah those who would rely.

Surah Ibrahim 14:11-12

The Messenger of Allah would tell the stories of prophets in the past who asked Allah to forgive their people even as they were being beaten by them.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: I saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, tell the story of a prophet who was beaten by his people and he wiped the blood from his face, saying:

‏ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِقَوْمِي فَإِنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ

My Lord, forgive my people for they do not know.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6530, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

An-Nawawi comments on this tradition, saying:

فِيهِ مَا كَانُوا عَلَيْهِ صَلَوَاتُ اللَّهِ وَسَلَامُهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ الْحِلْمِ وَالتَّصَبُّرِ وَالْعَفْوِ وَالشَّفَقَةِ عَلَى قَوْمِهِمْ وَدُعَائِهِمْ لَهُمْ بِالْهِدَايَةِ وَالْغُفْرَانِ وَعُذْرِهِمْ فِي جِنَايَتِهِمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ بِأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

In this is what the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was upon of forbearance, patience, forgiveness, and compassion for his people, his supplication for them to receive guidance and be forgiven, and that they be excused for their sins because they did not know.

Source: Sharh Sahih Muslim

Therefore, we should strive to practice patience, mercy, and forgiveness whenever we are confronted with abuse. We should control our anger, pardon people, and supplicate for Allah to guide those who have gone astray. If we do so, we will win the hearts of our enemies and turn them into our close friends.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Obama strike would not weaken Assad’s military strength, experts warn

White House says any strike would be ‘discreet and limited’ in statement intended to reflect reluctance to draw US into conflict
United Nations (UN) arms experts and opp

United Nations arms experts and opposition fighters in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta suburb.

The Obama administration’s preferred option for a potential strike onSyria is likely to leave Bashar al-Assad’s government with significant chemical weapons and military infrastructure, according to military analysts.

Although vice-president Joe Biden said on Thursday that President Obama had yet to take a final decision on attacking the Syrian regime for allegedly gassing civilians on 21 August, administration statements ruled out several military options more severe than aerial bombing or sea-based missile strikes.

In the first confirmation of the scope of any attack, White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday that Obama was contemplating “something that is discreet and limited.”

But “boots on the ground” or “any military options aimed at regime change” were not up for discussion, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Thursday. Similarly, “we’re not talking about a Libya-style, open-ended no-fly operation,” she said.

The statements reflect the administration’s reluctance to draw the United States into Syria’s two-and-a-half-year civil war as a combatant. Administration officials have argued that the August 21 chemical attack, which they contend is Assad’s responsibility, compels an as-yet-unspecified response owing to the longstanding international norm renouncing chemical weapons use.

For over two years, neither Assad nor the rebel coalition fighting for his removal have been able to capture and sustain a decisive military advantage. Several US military analysts, while reluctant to commit the US to a fourth overt war in a Muslim country since 9/11, cautioned that Assad’s military capabilities, including his chemical weapons capabilities, might not be significantly weakened after a cruise missile strike or bombing campaign.

Assad’s post-strike resilience may create pressure for Obama to intervene further, they said – an outcome the administration seeks to avoid.

Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the anti-proliferation Arms Control Association, warned of the environmental risks of striking Syrian chemical silos or stockpiles and releasing toxic chemicals. He considered such strikes unlikely.

“The strikes that the US and UK are contemplating, if they decide on them, will be directed against political and military leadership targets, as well as the means by which Assad’s forces can deliver chemical weapons again,” Kimball said, including rocket sites and air bases for Russian-supplied helicopters and jets that serve as delivery systems for chemical weapons.

“That could degrade the ability of Assad to deliver chemical weapons, but it won’t eliminate it, and it won’t eliminate the actual stockpiles, which can only be eliminated when this terrible civil war is over,” Kimball said.

Barry Pavel, a former staff member on the national security council under the Bush and Obama administrations, said officials would be frequently revising a list of potential targets, seeking to avoid chemical weapons sites, which, if struck, could leak chemical agents into civilian areas.

“It looks likely we’ll go after air defence radars, air force bases and aircraft, ground force units,” he said. “And there would be some targets I imagine that include military command and control facilities.”

The US is also likely to strike Syrian air defenses and airfields that Russia and Iran use to resupply Assad – something that Chris Dougherty, an analyst with the influential Center on Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said would create “a wider range of options for the president” should Obama order additional military strikes.

“After an initial cruise-missile strike, the Assad regime would likely retain much of its WMD facilities and individual warheads, but would likely have a significantly degraded ability to actually employ those weapons,” Dougherty said.

“Going after hardened or buried facilities would require a more substantial air campaign, while going after initial warheads, caches and depots would require exquisite ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools] and possibly special operations forces.”

The top Republican on the Senate armed services committee, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, came out in opposition to an attack on Syria Thursday in advance of an unclassified conference call scheduled for the late afternoon to discuss the intelligence tying Assad to the August 21 attack.

“Today I told the administration that I cannot support military action in Syria unless the president presents to Congress his broader strategy in the region that addresses our national security interests and the budget to support it,” Inhofe said in a statement.

“Our troops are stretched thin, the defense budget has been slashed to historic levels and we are facing an unprecedented time of unrest across the Middle East amid growing concerns about Iran’s influence on the region and its nuclear ambitions. No red line should have been drawn without the strategy and funding to support it.”

Christopher Harmer, a former US navy officer in the Middle East, said the US would “have to get involved deeper” if it wanted to avoid Assad’s chemical stocks falling into the hands of either Hezbollah or al-Qaida’s allies in Syria, including providing “follow-on support to secular rebels”.

“A limited strike is worst than nothing at this point,” said Harmer, now an analyst with the hawkish Institute for the Study of War.

“Syria is devolving – it’s going toward a failed state. If we’re not willing to consequentially intervene to stop it, we need to consequentially intervene to stop the dispersal [of chemical weapons] before they get into the hands of non-state actors.”

Faysal Itani, a visiting fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said strikes would “shake up” Assad’s regime but not lead to any strategic rethinking or alter the balance of power on the ground. “That means the war will continue on its current trajectory,” he said.

“The greatest spillover effect would be in Lebanon, which is Syria’s weakest neighbor – that would take the form of refugees, which now constitute about a quarter of Lebanon’s population.”

Tom Donnelly, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said: “What’s on offer appears to be the worst of both worlds” – with the US drawn into the bloody Syria conflict but not sufficiently drawn in to affect its outcome.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Abu Marzouk calls on Egypt to end smear campaign against Hamas



CAIRO, (PIC)– Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk called on the Egyptian leadership to put an end to the smear campaign launched by some parties in the country against his Movement and the Gaza Strip.

In remarks on his facebook page, Abu Marzouk stressed that Hamas has no interest in getting involved or causing all the security events which it was accused falsely of, noting that all accusations and claims that had been made against Hamas were unfounded and with no evidence.

He also called for opening the Rafah border crossing since there is no reason to keep closing it after the Egyptian authorities destroyed the tunnels.

“Hamas has affirmed on different occasions its position on the need for opening the crossing in order for the tunnels to be shut down,” the Hamas official stated.

“Egypt is neither a party to the notorious agreement of crossings, nor a party to the Paris agreement which restricts the Palestinian trade and considers the Palestinian economy part of the internal economy of the Zionists,” he added, affirming his Movement’s willingness to discuss the mechanisms for the opening of the crossing after all tunnels had been destroyed.

He also hailed Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmi for his recent remarks about Gaza and Rafah crossing, saying that this new Egyptian position can be seen as a response to all parties that persist in demonizing Hamas and accusing it of being a threat to Egypt’s security.

Minister Fahmi stated recently that Egypt would not accept to be a party to the blockade imposed on Gaza and it would be natural to discuss with Hamas the arrangements for the opening of Rafah crossing.

The minister also stated that Egypt is not a party to the 2005 agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and cannot accept starving the Palestinians in Gaza.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Hans Blix: Who’s West to play world police?

Hans Blix, former executive chairman of the United Nations monitoring, verification and inspection commission

Hans Blix, former executive chairman of the United Nations monitoring, verification and inspection commission
A former UN official says the West has no mandate to militarily intervene in Syria and any such offensive would be the action of “self-appointed policemen” and “very unwise.”

In an article published on The Guardian on Wednesday, former Swedish Foreign Minister Hans Blix said US President Barack Obama, despite his pretensions to the contrary, is like former US President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in that he too seems willing to ignore the UN Security Council and “order armed strikes on Syria with political support from only the UK, France, and some others.”

He said the UN charter only allows the use of armed force in self-defence or with an authorization from the Security Council, but a potential US-led strike on Syria “could not be ‘in self-defence’ or ‘retaliation’, as the US, the UK and France have not been attacked.”

Furthermore, the expert highlighted the moral double-standards of the countries currently accusing Assad of using chemical weapons and using the excuse to launch an attack on the Arab country.

“And what is the moral weight of the condemnation by nuclear weapons states of the use of gas as a serious war crime when they themselves will not accept a norm that would criminalize any first use of their own nuclear weapons?”

The US administration’s saber-rattling stems from pressures exerted by the foreign-backed militants and a bid by the White House to avoid seeming “hesitant and passive,” he added.

Blix, who headed the UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission charged with searching Iraq for alleged weapons of mass destruction, said striking Syria today would be a repeat of the Iraq invasion by the US and its allies a decade earlier, and would suggest that the world’s major powers “can intervene militarily when they feel politically impelled to do so.”

The Western calls for military action against Syria intensified after the foreign-backed militants operating inside Syria claimed on August 21 that hundreds had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in Damascus suburbs.

A number of Western countries, including the US, France, and the UK, were quick to engage in a major publicity campaign to promote war against Syria despite the fact that Damascus categorically rejected the claim on the use of chemical arms.

Media outlets reported US plans for likely surgical attacks, which would be in the form of “cruise-missile strikes,” and “could rely on four US destroyers in the Mediterranean [Sea].” The plan was said to be awaiting US President Barack Obama’s go-ahead.

Washington has said it is willing to go ahead with its plans for a strike on Syria even without the approval of the United Nations and despite opposition from its own people as revealed by the latest polls.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Hamas : Ahmad’s statement confirms Fatah conspiracy on Gaza

Gaza, Alray – The statement made by Azzam Al-Ahamd, senior official of Fatah, about the effects of political changes in Egypt on Fatah’s return to Gaza, proves conspiracy against Gaza, Hamas said.

“Fatah bets with some regional parties against the resistance in Gaza. These bets will fail and the only loser is Fatah,” said Sami Abu Zohri,the spokesman of Hamas in a press release on Wednesday.

Azzam Al-Ahmad has said previously that Fatah will not return to Gaza on Egyptian tanks, but we cannot deny that political changes in Egypt have a role and will affect our return to Gaza.

(Source / 29.08.2013)

Witness accounts on the killing of three Palestinians that stopped peace negotiations

The home of Jihad Aslan, one of three Palestinians killed in Qalandia refugee camp.

The home of Jihad Aslan, one of three Palestinians killed in Qalandia refugee camp.

When Robin Zayed, 34, work up Monday morning to the distinct crack of gunfire outside his Qalandia refugee camp bedroom window, it seemed like almost a lifetime ago that he was struggling to provide for his family. Zayed has a wife and five kids, one daughter and four boys, and after five years in a contract position with the United Nations Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA), in 2011 he became a full-time employee and was able to buy a house.

Becoming a homeowner was no small achievement. He was still paying it off, but things had become routine and there was a comfort in that routine. So finally when the shooting stopped, Zayed readied to get to work. Yet within minutes he would be hit in the chest. His death, and that of two others, Jihad Aslan, 21, and Younes Joujah, 22, then catalyzed a Palestinian Authority (PA) boycott of peace negotiations, a row between the UN and Israel, and a face-off between Ramallah protesters and Palestinian security forces outside of the government’s compound.

Famed Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan joins the youth protest against the Palestinian Authority and negotiations with Israel.

Famed Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan joins the youth protest against the Palestinian Authority and negotiations with Israel.

“People, when they leave their houses in the morning it’s to go out and live their lives, it’s not to go out and die,” said Zayed’s uncle, Murad Jilal Zayed, 32. “When we open our doors we don’t expect to see soldiers in our faces.”


Intersection in Qalandia refugee camp where Robin Zayed was killed on Monday morning by Israeli fire.

Yet even while walking the straight and narrow Zayed couldn’t change the uneasy circumstances around him. At 4:00 am that morning the first soldiers arrived in the camp. A 1,500 person rock-throwing confrontation against the soldiers ensued. Israeli forces dressed in both uniforms and white undershirts with black cargo pants sprayed the camp with live-bullets. One unit, witnesses said, entered the camp in an unmarked green-plated Palestinian car.

When it seemed like the militarized Jeeps were finally driving out of the camp after firing at people, building facades and cars, Zayed walked out of his house. Two were already dead and around 20 injured. At 7:30am, Zayed peered around a corner that only five minutes before was in heat. He saw an Israeli Jeep driving away from him towards the exit of the camp. Then, according to witnesses, neighbors of Zayed, a soldier shot him in the chest. He died instantly.

“It was quiet before they shot him,” said Mohammed Leila Mizher, a neighbor who carried Zayed’s lifeless body off the street. “He looked slaughtered, the way an animal was slaughtered. I could put my hand in the bullet holes when I was holding him,” he continued.

Shelling over Palestinian business in Qalandia refugee camp.

Shelling over Palestinian business in Qalandia refugee camp.

Two days after Zayed’s death his uncle Murad walked me through Qalandia. It was the conclusion of the grieving period. A tent with plastic chairs and fold out tables were set up by the camp’s entrance for male family members and friends. Officials from the PA gave speeches, and the head of the Palestinian Women’s Martyrs Union spoke about the three killed as symbol of their burgeoning country. Flags for Mahmoud Abbas’s party Fatah rafted over the rows of mourners. Murad said lame duck Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had showed up the day before to pay his respects.

Shelling marks on shutter of storefront near where three Palestinians were killed earlier this week.

Shelling marks on shutter of storefront near where three Palestinians were killed earlier this week.

Mansaf was also served, a traditional rice and lamb dish for funerals and weddings. If one can afford an entire lamb for marriages the animal is served with its mouth open. But at wakes, it’s closed; a singular heavy dish for both blessing and catastrophe.

Qalandia refugee camp is a short walk from the checkpoint of the same name, the main artery in and out of the northern West Bank for Palestinians. Because of its location, it is also host to all of the through-traffic to Ramallah, the seat of the PA. Every day it’s a jam and sometimes, once a week Israeli forces enter in cover of night and arrest one of the refugees.

That’s how things started on Monday.

Israel border police first entered the camp to arrest Yousef al-Khitab on suspicion of “terrorist activity,” according to a representative from the Israeli military. Al-Khitab was former prisoner who was released just weeks ago in an Israeli goodwill gesture on the eve of the return to peace talks. According to al-Khitab’s neighbor, the youth knew he was a wanted man. “We are administered as part of Area C, so they [the IDF] can come in whenever they want,” said Murad. “When somebody is wanted,” he continued, “they usually flee to Area A.” But al-Khitab stayed in the camp. He didn’t want to part from his wife and children to hideout in Ramallah.

Detaining al-Khitab should have been a routine operation, but it went astray. Witnesses in the camp said the first unit of border police created a ruckus. A man who spoke with Mondoweiss on the condition of anonymity said he woke at 4:30 am for morning prays, then drank coffee and read the Quran. What is usually the quietest part of the day was shattered by the screams of al-Khitab’s younger brother Omar. Around 5:30 am the neighbor stuck his head out of his second floor bedroom window and spotted five Israeli forces with M16s on the street and stair entrance to the al-Khitab house. Then soldiers dragged Omar from the house to the street where they beat him, said the neighbor.

The noise roused sleeping Palestinians and some began pelting the police with stones. By 6:30 am an IDF unit was dispatched. They entered the camp from two points, shooting live fire—no tear gas or rubber bullets, the standard crowd control dispersant. Palestinians threw stones, firebombs and chairs at them. The entire clash spread out in three directions at a T-intersection near the camp’s exit flooding the streets with debris.

When Jihad Aslan heard the commotion he wanted to participate. His house is a few meters from al-Khitab’s. “Anytime he heard clashes he was the first to come out,” said the female members of his family. His mother, still in shock, had not spoken much of the past three days. Together the relatives said Aslan was shot in his left hand while throwing rocks.

“They blew his whole hand off,” said his mother and aunts. “Then he reached out with his other had and the is when they shot him dead.”

Aslan was the youngest of three brothers, all raised by a single mom. His dad parted for Panama before he was born and the two had never met. “God have mercy on him, he was lovely to everyone,” continued his relatives. They said he loved the martyrs and the Palestinian cause. Part of his national, or liberatory, ethic included helping others and he was said to have been kind to those in need because it fulfilled a duty for those ushering in a better future for the occupied Palestinian people.

Aslan had also spent three stints in an Israeli prison. Once for one year, once for eight months, and once for four months. He was 17 the first time he was arrested, but even before then he had run-ins with Israeli forces. When he was 14 he was shot several times in the leg, rendering him partially disabled.

The father and brother of Younes Joujah who was also killed in the clash were not in Qalandia at the time of his death. His family was not available for comment and witnesses who spoke to Mondoweiss about the other killings did not see Joujah’s death.

Hours after the three Palestinians were killed clashes erupted all over the West Bank and in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t just the populous that responded. The Palestinian leadership canceled a meeting in Jericho with Israeli officials that was part of the nine months of direct negotiations. Officially the meeting has not been rescheduled and it’s unknown if the Kerry backed peace process can survive.

The UN for its part lambasted the attack. “UNRWA condemns the killing of its staff member and calls on all sides, at this delicate time, to exercise maximum restraint and to act in accordance with obligations under international law,” said UNRWA’s Chris Gunness.

Israeli officials responded denouncing UNRWA for not speaking with the foreign ministry. “Quite aside from the fact that UNRWA did not even bother to approach any official Israeli sources for comment, its statement was rushed to the press while the violent riots were still raging in Qalandia,” said the Israeli foreign ministry toYnet News. However, before releasing its statement UNRWA maintains it did speak with Israeli officials from both the military and the ministry of foreign affairs. “The right hand of the Foreign Ministry needs to know what its left hand is doing,”said Gunness. As well the UN dispatched a team from the UN Commission on Human Rights to investigate the deaths in Qalandia.

Palestinian youth protested the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the killings in Qalandia refugee camp.

Three days after the killings youth in Ramallah continued the protests that had started days before, however turning their attention to the PA. They called for the resignation of Abbas and a cancellation of the negotiations with Israel. From the city center a group of 200, led by young women, marched toward the Muqata, the seat of government. Palestinian security forces blocked the youth from accessing the compound and beat protesters with batons. The demonstrators also clapped their hands against the police’s riot shields. One Palestinian was detained and released within an hour.

Palestinian security forces blocked youth protesters from accessing the Muqata and beat them with batons.

(Source / 29.08.2013)