Ex-CIA Officer: US Congress Arms ISIL in Syria via so-called “Moderate Opposition”

WASHINGTON- The US congress have armed the extremists of the terrorist organization calling itself the “Islamic State of Iraq and Levant” (ISIL) by providing weapons to the so-called “moderate opposition” in Syria, former CIA counter terrorism officer and Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior investigator John Kiriakou has said, Sputnik reported on Wednesday.

Kiriakou said that the so-called “Free Syrian Army”, which is an armed group fighting the Syrian government and is considered as “moderate” by western countries , “didn’t help at all…supporting them has only made matters worse. Most of the US arms that were sent to them found their way into the hands of ISIL. Congress has paid for the arming of ISIL.”

According to him, ISIL forces in Syria had been able to capture and use modern US equipment from the “FSA”.

The US support for the idea of “a liberal, democratic freedom-loving, peace-loving opposition,” as an alternative to President Bashar Al-Assad, “was just nonsense,” Kiriakou said. The US should have stayed out instead of making the situation worse, he added.

Despite the failure of the US program for training what Washington calls “moderate opposition”, the American President Barack Obama keep insisting to provide more support for the terrorist organizations in Syria.

(Source / 09.10.2015)

6 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire near Gaza’s border

Palestinians carry a wounded protester who was shot by Israeli troops during clashes near the Israeli border fence in northeast Gaza, October 9, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

At least six Palestinians have lost their lives and more than a dozen others sustained injuries after Israeli forces opened fire at a group of Palestinian protesters in the eastern part of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Palestinian medical sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hammoud Hisham Muhsen, Ahmad al-Harbawi, Abed al-Wahidi and Hussam Dawla were fatally shot as Israeli troopers fired live bullets to disperse the Palestinian protesters east of the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday, Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency reported.

The identity of two of the victims have not immediately been released.

The sources added that as many as 35 Palestinians were also wounded during the imbroglio, describing the injuries as slight to moderate.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces also attacked Palestinians protesting against Tel Aviv’s provocations at al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to reports, five Palestinians were injured during clashes at a checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, while seven others sustained injuries in similar skirmishes in Bethlehem, south of al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The development came only hours after an Israeli man stabbed and injured four Palestinians in the southern Israeli city of Dimona, which lies in the Negev desert and 36 kilometers (22 miles) south of Beersheba.

The unidentified Israeli assailant reportedly first attacked a 35-year-old Bedouin laborer, before fleeing the scene and stabbing another three Palestinian Bedouin workers. All the four victims are said to be in their 50s.

The 17-year-old stabber, known to police, said under questioning that he believes all Arabs are terrorists, and that is the reason why he stabbed the Palestinians.

Palestinian protesters run for cover during clashes with Israeli troops near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on October 8, 2015

Earlier on Friday, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian woman in the northern city of Afula after she allegedly brandished a knife and sought to stab an Israeli guard at the city’s central bus station.

‘Intifada underway’

Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh delivers a sermon during Friday prayers in Gaza City, October 9, 2015. 

Meanwhile, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called the recent spate of clashes between Palestianians and Israeli military troopers in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds over the past few days an “Intifada (uprising)” against the Tel Aviv regime.

“We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the Intifada… It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” Haniyeh said during a sermon aimed at Palestinian worshipers attending Friday prayers at a mosque in Gaza City.

“Gaza will fulfill its role in the al-Quds Intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation,” he pointed out.

On Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Right Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed extreme concern over the escalation of the tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories, urging an end to the violence.

The UN official also warned about the rising number of the Palestinians injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli troops near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on October 8, 2015.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi also denounced the Israeli regime for its “racist and aggressive” practices towards the Palestinians, calling on the United Nations to take necessary measures to bring to a halt Tel Aviv’s acts of violence.

“The continuing escalation of attacks on the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation authorities and settlers threatens to exacerbate the situation in the entire region as the international community remains silent to these crimes,” the Arab League chief warned in a statement released on Thursday.

Palestinians are angry at the Israeli regime for imposing restrictions on their entry into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is the third holiest mosque to Muslims after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

On Thursday, Tel Aviv banned Palestinian men under the age of 50 from attending Friday prayers at the mosque, located in East al-Quds.

(Source / 09.10.2015)

Palestinian killed after alleged stabbing in Kiryat Arba

Israeli soldiers inspect a Palestinian car at a checkpoint close to the West Bank village of Beit Furik, east of Nablus, on October 2, 2015

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian suspect was shot and killed in the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba on Friday after allegedly stabbing an Israeli border police officer as attacks continue throughout the area.Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said an “Arab terrorist” was shot and killed after stabbing the officer in the Hebron settlement.The Palestinian victim was identifiedas Muhammad Fares Abdullah al-Jaabari, 19.

The area was closed off following the incident and the policeman was lightly injured.The incident comes amid renewed violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank bank on Friday after seven Israelis were stabbed in attacks on Thursday and a Palestinian was shot dead in Shufat refugee camp during clashes.Earlier, an Israeli teenager stabbed and injured four Palestinian Bedouins in the city of Dimona, seriously injuring two.

It was later reported that a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem, causing light injuries.
Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, six Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes, bringing the total number killed in clashes since Oct. 1 to 8, including a 13-year-old.On Thursday, four Israelis, including a soldier, were injured by a Palestinian suspect in a Tel Aviv stabbing attack, with the attacker shot dead, while an Orthodox Israeli man was stabbed in East Jerusalem and an Israeli settler stabbed in Kiryat Arba.Wissam Faraj, 20, was shot dead during clashes in Shufat refugee camp later on Thursday after Israeli forces raided the home of a Palestinian suspect in the earlier Jerusalem stabbing.
(Source / 09.10.2015)

A new intifada? You’re asking the wrong question

Palestinian-man-arrested-by-Israeli-soldiers02

Over the last few days, one question has been repeated over and over again: are we witnessing the beginning of a new intifada in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)?

It is understandable that people are asking this: more than 500 Palestinians were injured in confrontations with Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank over 72 hours – a third of whom were shot with live ammunition or rubber-coated metal bullets.

Since last Thursday, four Israelis and four Palestinians have been killed in different incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The latest fatality was a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Aida refugee camp in northern Bethlehem on Monday.

But debating whether or not the ongoing clashes constitute a third intifada is less useful than an assessment of the facts, an important part of which is the data we have for violence in the OPT, both by Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinians resisting their presence.

In 2015 to date, 30 Palestinians have been killed, and 8 Israelis. A comparison with 2014 figures is not so helpful, because of two major Israeli offensives: ‘Operation Brother’s Keeper’ and ‘Operation Protective Edge’. In 2013, however, 38 Palestinians were killed and 4 Israelis.

A database maintained by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, is a useful barometer of the level of Palestinian resistance in the OPT (once you get past the absurdity of Molotov cocktails targeting an occupying army being described as ‘terror attacks’).

Over a 12-month timespan from September 2014 to August 2015 inclusive (see Graph 1), the number of Palestinian attacks in the West Bank does vary, but has tended to range at between 100-150 incidents per month (targeting both occupation forces and settlers). Graph1

Graph 2, meanwhile, shows the number of ‘firebomb’ (i.e. Molotov cocktails) attacks recorded by Shin Bet over the same 12-month period. Again, there is no obvious, steady increase – though in East Jerusalem it is possible to discern a marked uptick in recent months that has been maintained. Graph2

Finally, in Graph 3, we see the number of Israeli raids on Palestinian communities, as well as how many Palestinians have been arrested, and injured. Taken together, these three graphs defy attempts to identify a straightforward trend or pattern. Graph3

The bigger picture, however, shows a clear increase in the number of Palestinian attacks on Israeli occupation forces and settlers. In 2011, Shin Bet recorded 320 such incidents in the West Bank: in 2012, this rose to 578, and in 2013, to 1,271 (including a five-fold increase in the use of firearms).

The relatively small number of Israeli fatalities in recent years – including, in 2012, a year when not a single Israeli was killed in the West Bank – can obscure this increase in Palestinian resistance (note that the vast majority of recorded ‘attacks’ are stone-throwing incidents or Molotov cocktails).

There are a number of factors at play here. The lack of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is part of the story, of course – but more significant is the main reason for this collapse in the peace process: an Israeli government ruled by the right and extreme-right.

Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, Moshe Ya’alon, Miri Regev, Ayelet Shaked – the Israeli cabinet is packed with politicians whose commitment to Palestinian statehood is suspect or explicitly non-existent – but whose dedication to the colonisation of East Jerusalem and West Bank is a matter of record.

When Yair Lapid is the voice of moderation inside government, and Isaac Herzog is the face of the ‘opposition’, you know things are bad. Many Palestinians gave up on the official ‘peace process’ track a long time ago – now even the die-hard believers are doubting what these talks can achieve.

Meanwhile, the various aspects of Israel’s apartheid regime remain: settlements grow, land is expropriated, Israeli forces kill civilians with impunity, Palestinians languish in Israeli jails, homes are demolished, settler violence continues, and Palestinian freedom of movement is restricted.

On the other hand, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority’s political leadership and security forces are still opposed to a broader uprising. As Amira Hass put it, “Fatah’s shaky political condition precludes the convention of regular conferences, let alone the conducting of a new intifada.”

Writing in August, Mouin Rabbani pointed out how, for “most of the past decade”, the Palestinian Authority (PA) “has been systematically conducting offensive operations…against its own people and precisely in order to obstruct the emergence of a serious challenge to Israel’s occupation.”

It is those areas where PA forces wield less influence or are absent, such as the West Bank refugee camps, Area C, and most notably East Jerusalem, which have seen more consistent and intense confrontations with Israeli forces.

The factors Rabbani identified in the summer “that together conspire against renewed rebellion” have not disappeared. A groundswell of public support for a wider, more sustained and organised uprising, especially coming from Fatah activists, could change this, but it is unclear if this will materialise at the current juncture.

We have been here before. The Israeli media asked “Is this a new intifada?” as early as March 2006, almost a decade ago. A third intifada was described as “inevitable” but “not imminent” in 2011, “inevitable” again in 2012, while in 2013, an Israeli commanderannounced it had already begun.

Is this a new intifada? Simply put, it is too soon to tell, but probably not. However, rather than worrying about definitions or labels, it makes more sense to focus on the reality on the ground. This tells us that a new tide of Palestinian rebellion has been rising for the last few years, for the quite obvious reason that occupation, colonialism, and apartheid produces resistance.

(Source / 09.10.2015)

PALESTINIAN/SYRIAN REFUGEES ARE BEING DEPORTED FROM JORDAN AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW

pal refugee jordan 620

Refoulement is the forceful deportation of a refugee according to the 1954 UN Convention, article 33 and is against international law. However, it has been reported as occurring in Jordan. It’s also been reported that the Jordanian government has begun discriminating against Palestinian/Syrian refugees. These are Palestinians who fled already once from their homeland to Syria and are now fleeing for a second time into neighbouring countries. The Jordanian government has also been accused of refusing Palestinian refugees at the boarder.
Human Rights Watch reported of this discrimination back in August of 2014 stating that Jordan is barring entry to Palestinians fleeing Syria and in some cases deporting them backto the wartorn country, in violation of its international obligations. The Jordanian government denies this.
Jordan is overwhelmed with refugee’s from Palestine and Syria. 70% of the total population of Jordan are refugees and there is a tremendous lack of international support.
Siraj Davis is a teacher and activist, working with Palestinian refugees in a camp in Jordan. He see’s the overwhelming neglect of human beings on a daily basis. Palestinian refugees are treated as second-class citizens and not given the same equal rights as Jordanian citizens. While Syrian refugees are treated even worse.

Refoulement of Syrian Refugees in Jordan / الترحيل القسري للاجئين السورين في الاردن

(Source / 09.10.2015)

Islamic State closes in on Syrian city of Aleppo; U.S. abandons rebel training effort

A boy rides a motorcycle through a damaged street in Old Aleppo, Syria September 5, 2015

slamic State fighters have seized villages close to the northern city of Aleppo from rival insurgents, a monitoring group said on Friday, despite an intensifying Russian air-and-sea campaign that Moscow says has targeted the militant group.

News of the advance came as the United States announced it was largely abandoning its failed program to train moderate rebels fighting Islamic State and would instead provide arms and equipment directly to rebel leaders and their units on the battlefield.

The Obama administration is grappling with a dramatic change in the four-year-old Syrian civil war brought about by Moscow’s intervention in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian defense ministry said stepped-up air strikes on rebel positions in Syria killed 300 anti-Assad rebels and that it hit 60 Islamic State targets over the last day. There was no independent confirmation of the death toll.

About 200 insurgents were killed in an attack on the Liwa al-Haqq group in Raqqa province while 100 died in Aleppo, the defense ministry said. Two Islamic State commanders were among the dead in Russia’s most intense raids since it launched strikes in Syria 10 days ago. In previous updates Russia has reported hitting 10 targets daily.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the fighting, said there had been no significant advances by government forces backed by allied militia in areas where ground offensives were launched this week. “It’s back and forth,” said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Observatory.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps said separately that one of its generals had been killed near Aleppo, once Syria’s most populous city. Iran, like Russia an Assad ally, says it has advisers in the country.

Islamic State is now within 2 km (1.2 miles) of government-held territory on the northern edge of Aleppo, which has suffered widespread damage and disease during the civil war that erupted in the wake of protests against Assad.

Syria’s military, backed by Russia, Iran and allied militias, has launched a major attack in Syria’s west to recapture land lost to non-IS rebels near the heartland of Assad’s minority Alawite sect. That area is vital to Assad’s survival.

A senior regional official close to the Syrian government said: “The Iranians are at the heart of the battle, with strength and effectiveness. Yes they are participating.”

As the government operation in the west pushed ahead, Islamic State said its fighters had captured five villages in its northern offensive and had killed more than 10 soldiers or militiamen. Powerful insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham managed to recapture one of the villages, Tel Suseen, later in the day, the Observatory and online media affiliated with the rebels said, but the others appeared to remain in IS hands.

The British-based Observatory said it was the biggest advance by Islamic State since it launched an offensive against rival rebels in Aleppo near the Turkish border in late August.

“DAESH EXPLOIT RUSSIAN STRIKES”

“Daesh has exploited the Russian air strikes and the preoccupation of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army in its battles in Hama, and advanced in Aleppo,” said one rebel commander with fighters in the region, using an Arabic name for Islamic State.

Russian warplanes and warships have been bombarding targets across Syria in a campaign Moscow says is targeting IS fighters, who control large parts of eastern Syria and of Iraq.

But the campaign appears to have mainly struck other rebel groups, some of which had been battling to stop the Islamic State advance across Aleppo province.

U.S. and Russian warplanes are now flying missions over the same country for the first time since World War Two, risking incidents between the two air forces and their fast jets.

Seeking to underline the dangers, U.S. officials said four Russian cruise missiles fired from a warship in the Caspian Sea had crashed in Iran, which drew a swift denial from Russia.

Speaking in London on Friday, U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter said however that the United States had indications that Russian cruise missiles did malfunction.

Washington said it was pulling the plug on a short-lived $580 million program to train and equip units of fighters at sites outside of Syria, after its disastrous launch this year fanned criticism of President Barack Obama’s war strategy.

The Pentagon said it would shift its focus to providing weapons and other equipment to rebel groups whose leaders have passed a U.S. vetting process to ensure they are not linked to militant Islamist groups.

France has also been involved in the anti-Islamic State effort, launching its first air strike in Syria on Sept. 27.

French Rafale warplanes attacked an IS training camp in their stronghold of Raqqa overnight. “We struck because we know that in Syria, particularly around Raqqa, there are training camps for foreign fighters whose mission is not to fight Daesh on the Levant but to come to France, in Europe to carry out attacks,” said French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

ALAWITE HEARTLAND

The Observatory reported a new wave of Russian air strikes in the west on Friday morning on Hama and Idlib, apparently in support of the ground offensive against anti-Assad rebels.

The offensive has focused around the Ghab Plain, next to Syria’s western mountain range which forms the Alawite heartland and the important strategic main north-south highway running north from Hama towards the cities of Idlib and Aleppo.

Securing those areas would help consolidate Assad’s control over Syria’s main population centers in the west of the country, far from the Islamic State strongholds in the east.

Abu al-Baraa, a fighter with the Ajnad al-Sham rebel group, speaking to Reuters via Internet messenger from the Ghab Plain, said: “The regime has been trying since yesterday to advance … and tried many times, with Russian jets paving their way, but … most of the attacks are repelled. Also a number of heavy regime vehicles have been destroyed in the Ghab region.”

Alongside the Russian air-and-sea campaign, regional officials have told Reuters that hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria since late September to support the Syrian army and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.

Senior Iranian officials have been in Syria for several years as military advisers. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards said a senior general, Hossein Hamedani, was killed near Aleppo late on Thursday. Hamedani was a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war and was made deputy chief commander in 2005. Several senior Guard commanders have been killed in Syria.

Turkey said on Friday it was concerned about a possible fresh wave of Syrian migrants arriving at its border as a result of Russian air strikes. The conflict has killed 250,000 people and displaced millions, causing a refugee crisis in neighboring nations and in Europe.

(Source / 09.10.2015)

6 Palestinians killed as Israeli forces open fire at Gaza demo

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Six Palestinians were killed and 145 others injured as Israeli military forces opened fire at a demonstration by the border fence east of Gaza City and near Khan Younis on Friday, medics and the Ministry of Health said.The Gaza Ministry of Health said Shadi Hussam Dawla, 20, Ahmad al-Harbawi, 20, and Abed al-Wahidi, 20, were shot and killed east of the al-Shujaiyeh neighborhood.Muhammad al-Raqeb, 15, and Ziad Nabil Sharaf, 20, were killed after being shot by Israeli forces near Khan Younis while Adnan Moussa Abu Elayyan, 22, was shot in the head and killed in the same area.One hundred and forty-five other Palestinians were injured, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health, 10 of whom are in serious condition, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that 200 Palestinians approached the security fence and hurled rocks and rolled burning tires at Israeli forces.Israeli forces responded with live fire towards the “main instigators,” she said, confirming five direct hits.The deaths in Gaza come amid renewed violence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday.In the Israeli city of Dimona, an Israeli teenager stabbed four Palestinian Bedouins who worked for the local municipality, seriously injuring two.A Palestinian was shot and killed in the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba after attempting to stab an Israeli border officer, police said, while a Palestinian woman was also shot in Afula after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli security guard.Video footage of the incident shows heavily armed Israeli forces open fire multiple times at her, despite her posing no threat to them.Tensions had been mounting steadily for weeks across the occupied Palestinian territory due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.At least 900 Palestinians have been injured in seven consecutive days of demonstrations and clashes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, at least 60 with live fire, medics say.

(Source / 09.10.2015)

Palestinian stab victim says passersby ‘looked on’ during attack

An Israeli policeman in Jerusalem following an attack on Oct. 8, 2015

BEERSHEVA (Ma’an) — A Palestinian who was stabbed by an Israeli in Dimona earlier on Friday said the teenager chased him down and stabbed him repeatedly while passersby “looked on.”Eid al-Hawashla, 44, who lives in the suburbs of Dimona, told Ma’an he had just left a shop at the time that the youth had already stabbed two Palestinians nearby.”He approached me and stabbed once again, despite people shouting at him,” al-Hawashla said.”A Lehman school guard had drawn his gun and ordered him to get away from me, but did not shoot him,” he added, referring to a guard of a local school.Al-Hawashla was one of four Palestinians that an Israeli suspect stabbed and injured in the city on Friday.The Israeli reportedly attacked a 35-year-old Bedouin laborer before fleeing the scene and stabbing another three Palestinian Bedouin workers, all reported to be in their 50s, Israeli news site Ynet said.Three of the victims are employees of the Israeli state’s Dimona municipality.Two of the men received moderate to serious injuries and were taken to Soroka hospital for treatment, while the two others were lightly injured.The Israeli suspect, said to be 17, was detained.The attack was one of several in a wave of stabbings that has erupted across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in recent days.Four Palestinians have been shot dead on scene after allegedly carrying out stabbing attacks since Oct. 1.Eight demonstrators meanwhile have been shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes in the same time period, and four Israelis have been killed in attacks, including two Israeli settlers.Palestinian Fadi Alloun, 19, was also shot dead by Israeli forces after an alleged stabbing attack on Saturday, although a video of his death showed he posed no threat at the time and was running away from a group of Israelis.On Friday, a Palestinian woman was shot and injured after an alleged stabbing attempt in Afula, butvideo footage of the incident shows that the woman posed no threat when she was shot.While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to take measures to prevent future attacks, critics argue the measures protect Israeli Jews while leave Palestinians unprotected from Israeli attackers and military forces.Hundreds of right-wing Israelis have marched through Jerusalem’s streets over the past week chanting “Death to Arabs” and calling on the PM to take more serious measures.

(Source / 09.10.2015)

What does the Brotherhood really want?

The tug-of-war continues inside Egypt’s biggest Islamist group while vision remains absent

Brotherhood

Brotherhood’s headquarter

A statement sent by an official email account of the now-banned Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, last week, highlighting major changes in the group’s strategy, was only a draft article suggested by one of its members to develop a debate, according to another statement sent by the same email account the following day.

The statement, or rather draft article, entitled “A statement written by the Muslim Brotherhood” came in response to an article written by prominent political researcher and columnist Khalil Al-Anani on 24 September in pan-Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, believed to be close to the group, which was published under the title “A statement not written by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The emailed statement in fact not only adopted Al-Anani’s political position but used similar wording with minimal but substantial changes.

The statement, or draft article, explained that the group has paid a high price in its attempt to resist the “military coup” in July 2013 and to regain the path of the 25 January revolution. The statement also points to the state crackdown on its members, which has left thousands killed and tens of thousands imprisoned, as well as the negative propaganda against them that seems to have had a great effect on the majority of Egyptians, and argues that these circumstances are forcing the group to leave it to the Egyptian people to complete the struggle.

The group accordingly decides to totally detach the Brotherhood, an educational and preaching movement that “promotes virtue and prevents vice through advising both the rulers and the ruled”, and the Freedom and Justice Party, which was once the political arm of the group after the ouster of long-term autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The group also, according to the statement, gives its members the right to establish political parties or join existing ones even if their ideology “does not have much in common with the ideology of theoretical reference of the Brotherhood” as long as these parties respect democracy, freedom and justice as key principles.

As for the Freedom and Justice Party, the statement calls on its members to revise their political stances in order to fix any errors they have fallen into since they came to power in 2012, in order to be able to establish a healthy relationship with other political forces and “reach a common agenda that aims at building the rule of law, freedom and justice.”

At the end of the statement the Brotherhood – or rather the writer – denounces violence of any kind for any reason, stressing that anyone who calls for violence or tries to find an excuse for it, not to mention practices it, categorically does not belong to the group. The group also extends the invitation for political dialogue to all parties, movements and public figures who believe in the 25 January revolution, calling on them to reject their disputes.

Another stillborn initiative

“Wishful thinking”, says a Brotherhood member to Ahram Online, describing the statement. “If the group adopting this call had any effect on the ground they wouldn’t have retreated and withdrawn the statement saying it was only a draft article that was sent by mistake. It is another stillborn initiative.”

According to this source, the email account that sent the statement and later the clarification is affiliated with the Brotherhood but not with the group that controls the leadership. “This is a newsletter sent by the group in London. They have very progressive ideas but are totally isolated from the people on the ground [in Egypt].”

The London group, according to the source, is headed by Ibrahim Mashhour, a deputy supreme guide, and does not have a strong say on what is happening inside Egypt.

A few hours after the statement was circulated, a short warning was published on Ikhwan Online, the group’s official website, saying that “the official statements and positions of the Muslim Brotherhood are the ones released on its official website, Facebook page and through its official statements.”

The current statements on the group’s website exhort the youth to continue their resistance and to maintain the unity of the group.

“I don’t think that under the current conditions and with the split inside the group anyone can offer a total change in the tactics and be heard.

We need to solve our inner disputes first. A unified vision needs a unified group,” the Brotherhood source told Ahram Online.

So what is happening inside the group?

According to Ahmed Rami, the FJP spokesman who has himself been sentenced in absentia to death, the Brotherhood has been facing one of the deepest crises in its history since July 2013, a crisis that is both organisational and tactical.

Rami, in an interview with the pro-Brotherhood Al-Sharq TV channel, blamed the security challenges that the group has been facing since the ouster of its president, Mohamed Morsi, and the arrest or murder of many of its leading members and the fleeing of many others from the country.

It is hard to separate the organisational crisis and the dispute over who should lead the group at such a critical time from the question about which way to go and whether the group should adopt a more radical approach in its struggle against the current Egyptian regime headed by Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who was appointed defence minister by Morsi, or abide by a more pragmatic approach and accept the status quo to release the pressure on the lower ranks of the group inside Egypt until a new balance of power appears.

“It is not a generational question,” Rami explained, “and should not be presented this way. The first nail in the coffin of the 25 January political coalition was trying to portray the revolution as owned by the young people only.”

But if it is not a generational split between revolutionary young people and rather realistic older generation, how can the split be explained?
“It is more about who fled to exile and who stayed inside Egypt to be a part of a daily, bloody face-off between the group and the state,” a young Brotherhood member told Ahram Online.

“We are not trying to say that those who fled the country are less revolutionary, but the fact is they don’t know what is happening on the ground and thus should not have the final say,” added the young man, who spent months in prison for protesting illegally and was released in 2014.

“What kind of political resistance do they expect the young members to adhere to when the political forces which oppose the regime are not allowed a platform and have members in jail?” asked the young man, who has stopped taking part in protests called for by the Brotherhood-led National Alliance for Support of Legitimacy.

In February 2014, with most of the group’s leaders behind bars, in hiding or outside Egypt, a steering committee was elected to be take charge of the movement’s affairs, now mainly concerned with protesting the post-3 July regime. The de facto leadership at that time adopted a direct confrontation with the state’s repression, including some levels of violence that they justified as self-defence or civil disobedience.

The old guard announced this summer that the role of the steering committee was over and that the guidance bureau is now in charge of the Muslim Brotherhood. The old guard, headed by Mahmoud Ezzat, a deputy supreme guide, and Mahmoud Hussein, the group’s secretary-general, issues statements emphasising the group’s “historical stance” against violence. These statements however were not received positively by the group’s new leadership in Egypt.

A division of authority or vision?

“I don’t believe that there is a reformist trend within the Muslim Brotherhood,” Khalil Al-Anani told Ahram Online. “The division now is rather between the veteran leadership which lost control of the movement and the new leadership (not necessarily youth) that took over about a year ago.”

“The movement suffers not only from internal divisions but also the lack of vision and unified strategy on how to deal with the current crisis,” Al-Anani adds. “The Brotherhood has been in a state of a free fall since 3 July 2013 and the worst thing is that they don’t recognise that. The Brotherhood’s members and leaders still live in a state of denial, which deepens their crisis.”

Politicians who have been working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood since the ouster of Morsi seem to agree with Al-Anani on the current division; however some of them think that the reformist voice that was reflected in the statement, or draft article, is available even if it is not influential.

“This position is not new,” Deyaa El-Sawi, a leading member of the Independence party and official spokesman of Youth Against the Coup movement tells Ahram Online. “It is the same position that was adopted by some young members of the Brotherhood after the January 2011 revolution, but unfortunately many of those left the group when they found out that the leadership were not willing to change the way things are run.”

The Independence party, whose leader Magdi Hussien is currently in jail for his role in the National Alliance for Support of Legitimacy, left the alliance last year due to “political disagreements” with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Independence party was not the only Islamist entity to quit the pro-Morsi umbrella group which was formed days after his ouster. Other parties and groups left due to the “lack of vision” that they described as afflicting the largest and oldest Islamist organisation.

Former parliamentarian and member of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Conscious Front, Amr Abdel-Hady, in an interview with Al-Sharq TV, expressed his worry that a widespread apathy has started to appear among the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

“The young members are now divided to three groups: the larger group resorted to passiveness watching the developments inside and outside the Brotherhood, another group are willing to adopt whatever strategy the leadership will reach in a democratic united way, and a small group that adopt violence as a reaction to the current oppression,” Abdel-Hady explained.

According to Abdel-Hady and other sources close to the group, those who resort to violence are gaining ground due to the current dispute inside the leadership. “They are not competent and are only opening the door to more oppression against all Brotherhood members,” says Mohamed Othman, a former member of the Brotherhood and a current leading member of Strong Egypt opposition party.

The group comes to a halt

In the past couple of months the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests that used to be held weekly in some areas around Egypt seemed to disappear or at least fade away to a great extent.

Some observers believe that the reason behind this is an attempt by some of the old guards to reach a compromise with the current regime in Egypt, whether through a deal similar to the one adopted in the latest statement, or draft article, or other initiatives that are being presented by former leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood or international figures to close to them.

Others believe that the reason behind the decline in the protest movement that has been going on since the ouster of Morsi is that the security forces are going as far as killing those believed to be involved in attacks against police officers.

“The members are tired and want a way out,” says Osman. “Most of the ranks of the group belong to the middle class and cannot live their whole life chased from one place to the other or with the fear of being killed or arrest or losing their jobs at the very least.”

Both the old and the new guard of the Muslim Brotherhood believe that the members need a break to reorganise. “Our members are changing hiding places three or four times every day,” Ahmed Rami said. “We cannot expect them to think of where to go from here under these conditions.”

Any direction the leadership decides to take will lead, according to Osman, to a split inside the group, but the majority will abide and accept the strategy adopted by “a united leadership if there is one,” he believes.

Nevertheless Osman warns that the strategy adopted should take into consideration the other side of the relationship: the state. “The state does not want to reach any compromise with the Brotherhood and only time can tell if any of initiatives taken by different international parties are promising.”

(Source / 09.10.2015)

Targeting Syria’s Social Fabric Serves Assad and Justifies His Crimes

The Syrian Coalition condemns the horrific crime committed by ISIS against three Syrian citizens of the Syriac Assyrians after they were abducted along with dozens of Syriac Assyrians on February 23, 2015. Now the details of this shocking crime has been revealed, which represents a continuation of ISIS’s systematic terrorism against all components of the Syrian people.

The Syrian Coalition stresses that targeting the Syrian national fabric serves the interest of the Assad regime and help justify its crimes and plays into Assad’s strategy which is based on intimidating components of the Syrian society and exploiting their fear. The Iranian and Russian invaders are following in the footsteps of the Assad regime by targeting towns, churches, houses of worship, the latest of which was Russian air force’s targeting of the town of Um Sharshouh in rural Homs.

“While this terrorist systematic behavior highlights the harmony in the objectives and mechanisms among terrorist organizations, it lays bare Assad lies about the protection of minorities in Syria.

The Syrian Coalition warns against harming the other 187 Syriac Assyrians and calls for their immediate release. It also calls upon the international community to assume its responsibility towards these crimes and all the violations committed by ISIS, the Assad regime and the Russian and Iranian invaders.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 09.10.2015)