• Saudi Reforms and the Future of Mohammed bin Salman | New Eastern Outlook A russian point of view

    On April 22, as was already customary in the era of King Salman and his son, Prince Mohammed, a series of royal decrees were unexpectedly adopted and immediately published. The essence of these decrees is twofold: on the one hand, the level of salaries and bonuses for state employees will be restored, after having been canceled in September 2016, and they, respectively, will be increased by twenty percent. In addition, two salaries are paid at once to servicemen fighting in Yemen. On the other hand, a number of resignations and new appointments have been announced, which can also be divided into two parts – the appointment of new ministers and new governors.Rather significant figures have been dismissed from the group of appointees of Mohammed bin Salman himself, such as the Minister of Information and Culture, and technocrats, mostly not from the royal family, are listed in their place; whereas the posts of provincial governors and their deputies everywhere are taken up primarily by young princes of royal blood. The most notable appointment is the new ambassador to the United States – another son of King Khaled bin Salman. Yet another son, Abdelaziz bin Salman, changed from the Deputy Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources to State Minister for Energy (the post is more honorary than influential).

    Behind all these decisions is the iron logic of power. If we speak about raising salaries and paying benefits, then the emergence of this decree is dictated by the need to calm the maturing opposition in the Saudi society and the frustration that is flaring up in social media. They accuse the young prince, who is responsible for the economic, defense and foreign policy of the country, of living wastefully against the backdrop of the misfortunes of the Saudi population (although those are quite relative compared with other countries), which has begun to live significantly worse, given the fall in oil prices and measures to reduce the budget deficit, which amounted to a record $75 billion in 2016. Muhammad bin Salman is also accused of inept, ill-conceived reforms that do not produce proper results, and of delaying the costly military campaign in Yemen, which has not yet yielded any results. In this context, the increase in salaries and the payment of bonuses were absolutely necessary to strengthen the young prince’s shaky positions. The royal finances now provide some opportunities for this because of the stabilization of oil prices at $52-55 per barrel, although they are not enough to solve the problems of a budget deficit – for this the price for oil would need to soar to $78 per barrel, which so far looks unrealistic.


    #Russie #Arabie

    https://seenthis.net/messages/594702 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • The attack in Syria: Israel’s policy of ambiguity is nearing an end

    Strike in Damascus international airport attributed to Israel ■ Why isn’t Russia taking action? ■ defense chief draws a new red line: No Iranian and Hezbollah military presence on the Syrian border

    Amos Harel Apr 28, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/1.786074

    What has been done up to now with a degree of ambiguity, not to say discretion, is now being done for all to see. Syria confirmed on Thursday, in a report from its official news agency, that the Israeli airforce struck a military compound next to the Damascus airport before dawn.

    Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz implicitly acknowledged Israeli responsibility for the strike when he explained in a somewhat sleepy radio interview from the United States on Army Radio that “the incident totally fits with our policy for preventing weapons transfers to Hezbollah.” And all of this happened while Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was away on a visit to Russia, the chief sponsor of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
    Katz’s comments followed an earlier, first acknowledgement of its kind by Israel, after numerous reports in the Arab media of an Israeli airstrike in Syria in late March. And this past Tuesday, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer told journalists that about a hundred missiles, some intended for Hezbollah, were destroyed in that March airstrike. But it is still not certain that a deliberate decision has been made to abandon the policy of ambiguity that Israel has adhered to for the past five years, neither denying nor confirming its responsibility for such air strikes.
    This policy of ambiguity seems to be based on the idea that Israel’s refusal to comment on these strikes makes them less of an embarrassment for the regime and thus does not whet the Syrians’ appetite for revenge as much. The recent deviations from this policy were likely random occurrences and not the product of long-range strategic thinking.

    The initial reports from Damascus did not specify what types of weaponry was hit. Arab intelligence sources (quoted by an Amman-based reporter for Reuters) claimed that the targets this time were arms shipments from Iran being smuggled on civilian commercial flights via the international airport in Damascus.

    #Syrie #Israël #Hezbollah

    https://seenthis.net/messages/593966 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Abbas believes ’historic opportunity’ for peace under Trump, says Palestinian envoy

    ’President Trump has the political capital, the relationships with all the parties involved and the will to actually achieve this goal,’ Husam Zomlot says ahead of Abbas visit to Washington

    Amir Tibon (Washington) Apr 28, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-1.786177

    WASHINGTON - Five days before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Washington for his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, one of his closest advisers told Haaretz that Abbas believes there is a “historic opportunity” to reach a peace agreement under Trump’s leadership, and that he is looking forward to forging a “strategic partnership” with the new American president.
    Dr. Husam Zomlot, the recently appointed chief representative of the PLO in Washington, said that Abbas is coming to Washington with one clear objective: creating a political horizon for peace together with Trump. He added that Trump and Abbas had a “very positive conversation” when they spoke on the phone last month, and that Abbas is ready to “employ his vision for peace with full force.”
    Asked about the meeting’s agenda, Zomlot clarified that “there is one thing on the agenda – and that thing is the historic opportunity for peace presented by President Trump.”
    In an interview with Reuters overnight, Trump said, “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians - none whatsoever.”
    In contrast to some in Israel who declared that Trump’s election was the end of the peace process, Zomlot sounded positive about working with the U.S. administration.

    #Palestine #OLP #Etats-Unis #Israël

    https://seenthis.net/messages/593976 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Report: Trump plans to cut foreign aid across world - but increase aid to Palestinians

    WASHINGTON - Internal State Department documents that were published on Monday by Foreign Policy magazine show that while the Trump administration is preparing major cuts in U.S. foreign aid all across the world, one of the few areas where the administration actually wants to increase spending is the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
    The documents are an internal budget plan that seems in line with the administration’s stated goal of a deep cut of more than a third of the State Department and USAID’s total budget. They show major cuts in foreign aid to numerous countries in all continents, but a small rise of 4.6% in foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza, which would go up to $215 million for the 2018 fiscal year.
    In addition to these territories, other places in the Middle East that would see increased aid spending are Syria, Iraq and Libya, which will all see hundreds of millions of dollars invested should the budget proposal gets approved. All other countries in the Middle East that appear in the document, however, will suffer severe cuts in aid.
    The document proposes a 47.4% cut to Egypt’s aid - a surprising policy in light of the warm and friendly way in which Trump has treated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. It also proposed a 21% cut to foreign aid to Jordan, whose leader, King Abdullah, is the only world leader to have been invited to meet the president twice since his inauguration.

    WASHINGTON - Internal State Department documents that were published on Monday by Foreign Policy magazine show that while the Trump administration is preparing major cuts in U.S. foreign aid all across the world, one of the few areas where the administration actually wants to increase spending is the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
    The documents are an internal budget plan that seems in line with the administration’s stated goal of a deep cut of more than a third of the State Department and USAID’s total budget. They show major cuts in foreign aid to numerous countries in all continents, but a small rise of 4.6% in foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza, which would go up to $215 million for the 2018 fiscal year.
    In addition to these territories, other places in the Middle East that would see increased aid spending are Syria, Iraq and Libya, which will all see hundreds of millions of dollars invested should the budget proposal gets approved. All other countries in the Middle East that appear in the document, however, will suffer severe cuts in aid.
    The document proposes a 47.4% cut to Egypt’s aid - a surprising policy in light of the warm and friendly way in which Trump has treated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. It also proposed a 21% cut to foreign aid to Jordan, whose leader, King Abdullah, is the only world leader to have been invited to meet the president twice since his inauguration.

    #Egypte #Palestine #Etats-Unis #aide

    https://seenthis.net/messages/593120 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Anti-settlements resolution in Mass could be ’last straw’ for many Dems, warns party boss in AIPAC’s pocket


    This is good news. The Massachusetts Democratic Party is getting involved in the Israel/Palestine issue, with rival resolutions that are already dividing the state committee.

    Writes Shira Schoenberg at Mass Live:

    Democratic State Committeewoman Carol Coakley, of Millis, introduced a resolution, which will be voted on by the State Committee later this month, condemning Israeli settlements as “obstacles to peace” and urging Massachusetts’ members of Congress to oppose the settlements.

    James Segel, a former aide to Congressman Barney Frank, at a public hearing on Wednesday introduced an alternative resolution urging support for a two-state solution and acknowledging that there are many impediments to peace — including both Israeli settlement expansion and Palestinian incitement and terrorism.

    Longtime Democratic Party boss/treasurer Steve Grossman, who also headed the Israel lobby group AIPAC, is upset that anyone would take a stance against settlements:

    “I think passage of the Coakley resolution would be deeply divisive at a time when Democrats should be working on common shared principles and values, and I think it would harm the Democratic Party,” warned Steve Grossman, a former state Democratic Party chairman and a lifetime member of the Democratic State Committee who previously led the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a national pro-Israel lobby.

    Here’s the Globe’s panicky report, which gives Grossman paragraph after paragraph to sound off:

    State Democratic Party heavyweights are sounding a red alert against a provocative proposal for their state committee to declare opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank without specifically mentioning Palestinian violence, a step some top leaders fear would lead to an exodus of Democratic voters…

    Grossman… said it feeds a “one-sided blame game,” which is playing out across college campuses and in pockets of the “progressive wing of the Democratic Party,” and would send a disturbing message to many Democratic activists.

    “A lot of people would read about it and would read the language and say: ‘Frankly, that’s the last straw. This is not a place I feel comfortable any longer,’ ” Grossman said.

    “Many would see it as an attempt to drive a rhetorical stake through Israel’s heart and lay the blame — not part of the blame, but virtually the exclusive blame — for the failure of the peace process at Israel’s door, to the exclusion of any responsibility by Palestinians,” he said.

    Here’s that resolution. Very mild! We affirm our support for longstanding US policy, from Johnson to Obama, that settlements “are an obstacle to peace.”

    #Israël #colonies #Etats-Unis

    https://seenthis.net/messages/592492 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Pence’s visit to Indonesia another strike in internal White House battle over Islam

    Pence praised Indonesia’s ’moderate Islam’ as ’an inspiration to the world,’ but others in Trump’s administration still see all Muslims as a threat

    Amir Tibon Apr 22, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.784940

    Vice President Mike Pence became this week the first senior figure from the Trump White House to visit a Muslim country. As part of his tour in Southeast Asia, that was focused mostly on the crisis in the Korean peninsula, Pence stopped in Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, which is home to approximately 250 million people. 
    During his visit to Jakarta, the country’s capital, Pence made a statement that under previous U.S. administrations probably wouldn’t have been filed as more than a footnote, but in the Trump era, immediately made headlines and raised some eyebrows. “As the largest majority Muslim country, Indonesia’s tradition of moderate Islam, frankly, is an inspiration to the world,” Pence declared. He added that the United States commends Indonesia and its people “for the great inspiration that Indonesia provides to the world.”
    Indonesia is indeed a Muslim country led by moderate and democratically elected leadership. Its president, Joko Widodo, was elected in 2014, and was presented in news reports at the time as an “Indonesian version” of Barack Obama. Indonesia is also an important trade partner for the United States and has the largest navy in Southeast Asia. All of these factors can explain why Pence found it important to flatter his hosts in Jakarta this week. But the fact that he chose to specifically speak about the importance of moderate Islam was what made it into the news reports. 
    The reason is obvious: during his election campaign last year, Pence’s boss, Donald Trump, made statements and promises that ignored any kind of differentiation between various movements and groups in the Muslim world. Trump talked about banning all Muslims from entering the United States, without exception, and in March 2016 he said in an interview to CNN that “Islam hates us. There is tremendous hate there.” 
    Trump also assembled around him a number of key advisers with strong anti-Muslim opinions. Michael Flynn, his first choice for the position of National Security Adviser, claimed that Islam wasn’t truly a religion, but rather a political ideology that must be defeated. He also said radical Islamism was like cancer “inside the body of 1.7 billion people” - suggesting that every Muslim person in the world was “infected” by it.

    #Islam #Etats-Unis

    https://seenthis.net/messages/592497 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • INTERVIEW – Henry Laurens : « Les Palestiniens ont pour eux le droit mais n’ont pas la force » | Middle East Eye

    il y a la réalité du terrain et celle des conférences internationales, que ce soit à Astana ou à Genève. Sur le terrain pullulent les milices, qu’elles soient d’un côté ou de l’autre. Le régime de Bachar al-Assad n’est plus qu’un agrégat de milices. Il ne se fait pas respecter par telle milice qui contrôle telle sous-région ou telle autre. Du côté de la révolution syrienne, se trouvent les Kurdes, les islamistes, des milices locales aussi. Il n’y a pas d’autorité centralisée qui pourrait imposer que les armes cessent. C’est ce qui est inquiétant d’ailleurs sur la longue durée.


    https://seenthis.net/messages/592303 via rumor

  • Israël-Palestine, imbrication des mémoires opprimées | Dominique Vidal

    Aujourd’hui 19 avril sort dans plusieurs salles à Paris et en régions Jonction 48, du cinéaste israélo-américain Udi Aloni. C’est la dernière étape d’une déjà longue carrière, jalonnée d’œuvres majeures, dont un chef d’œuvre : Forgiveness. Au cœur de l’univers du maître, l’imbrication des mémoires opprimées. David, jeune Américano-Israélien, adossé à un arbre, regarde immobile et les yeux hagards la cour de l’hôpital psychiatrique. Pas n’importe lequel : destiné aux survivants de la Shoah, Kfar Shaul se situe sur les (...) Source : Orient XXI

    https://seenthis.net/messages/592206 via Rezo

  • Le Figaro - À Saint-Brevin, les migrants honnis puis acceptés

    Quand Le Figaro découvre que, malgré ses campagnes de haine, les migrants sont bien acceptés dans les villes de province


    LES OUBLIÉS DE LA CAMPAGNE (6/6) - Après avoir suscité une tempête d’émotions au Pays de Retz, le séjour de 47 demandeurs d’asile, qui ont passé six mois sur place, est jugé positif par les habitants.
    De notre envoyée spéciale à Saint-Brevin
     » Découvrez l’intégralité de notre série au fur et à mesure de sa publication

    Il est environ midi, le soleil tape et une douce brise glisse dans l’air marin de Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins, petite bourgade du Pays de Retz, située sur les bords de l’océan Atlantique à deux pas de l’estuaire de la Loire. Sayid Nasir, jeune Afghan de 29 ans, qui n’avait jamais vu la mer, dit que c’est la chose qui l’a le plus frappé à son arrivée au Centre de vacances d’EDF, où il a été accueilli en octobre pour six mois avec 47 autres migrants. « J’ai aimé la mer, la chambre confortable et aussi la gentillesse des habitants ! Je suis reconnaissant à Saint-Brevin », nous confiait-il il y a quelques jours, alors que le centre d’aide et d’orientation (CAO) mis en place s’apprêtait à fermer, conformément aux engagements de l’État et de l’organisation Trajets, qui a supervisé le séjour brévinois des migrants. Sayid, qui a quitté l’Afghanistan en septembre 2015 pour la Belgique avant de passer en France, espérait pouvoir gagner la Grande-Bretagne mais s’est retrouvé bloqué dans la fameuse « jungle » de Calais. Quand le gigantesque camp qui avait crû dans le chaos depuis des années, suscitant une véritable levée de boucliers des habitants de la ville, a été fermé, l’État a réparti des milliers de demandeurs d’asile à travers les communes de l’Hexagone. Saint-Brevin a hérité d’Afghans, d’Érythréens et de Soudanais venant de zones de guerre.
    Sayid, un garçon aux yeux noirs originaire de la province de Kunduz, qui parle bien anglais et voudrait faire des études de science politique, dit qu’il a fui son pays parce que « c’était devenu trop dangereux ». Il évoque le danger mortel des talibans qui a mis toute sa famille sur les routes. « Le fait de refuser de porter une barbe et de s’habiller en pantalon et en tee-shirt est un gros risque. J’aime ma patrie, si je l’ai quittée c’est qu’il n’était pas possible de rester. Ma famille me manque chaque minute », soupire-t-il, inquiet, vu qu’il n’a toujours pas de réponse à sa demande de papiers. « De quoi est fait le futur ? », s’interroge-t-il, sombre malgré ses sourires. Des tourments qui pourraient remplir des livres, mais que les habitants de Saint-Brevin n’étaient pas préparés à embrasser et à comprendre.
    Tempête d’émotions
    « 70 migrants pour 13.000 habitants, c’est dangereux, parmi eux il ne doit pas y avoir seulement des enfants de Marie mais des voyous »
    Maxime Boulanger, porte-parole d’un comité antimigrants
    Quand au mois d’octobre 2016, les Brévinois apprennent que le camp de Calais va fermer et que 50 à 70 migrants vont arriver sous peu au centre de vacances d’EDF, dans le quartier de Saint-Brevin l’Océan, une tempête d’émotions se met à courir sur la station balnéaire, qui s’étonne de l’absence totale de concertation. « 70 migrants pour 13.000 habitants, c’est dangereux, parmi eux il ne doit pas y avoir seulement des enfants de Marie mais des voyous », déclare alors Maxime Boulanger, qui devient porte-parole d’un comité antimigrants. Un commerçant brévinois confie à Ouest-Franceque « ça pourrait faire peur aux gens qui voudraient venir en vacances ». D’autres craignent une chute de l’immobilier. L’association d’habitants opposée à leur installation va bientôt rassembler quelque 400 signatures pour le camp du refus, suscitant en réaction la mise sur pied d’une « association des Brévinois atterrés » qui se prononce en faveur du contingent de migrants. Un soir, peu avant leur arrivée, des coups de feu sont tirés contre le bâtiment d’EDF, un acte qui plonge la ville dans la consternation. « Je peux comprendre les craintes mais la violence est inadmissible », réagit le préfet de Loire-Atlantique, Henri-Michel Comet. « Il y a des sentiments d’inquiétude, de peur mais aussi d’empathie. Je pense que les esprits vont se calmer », affirme pour sa part le maire (divers droite) Yannick Haury, tout en reconnaissant « avoir été mis devant le fait accompli ».
    Jean-Pierre dit que toute une petite communauté s’est formée pour aider ces arrivants exotiques et que la fête de départ a été « émouvante »
    Irène Petiteau, la directrice de l’Association Trajets, qui a été chargée de toute l’opération d’installation et de gestion du centre, me confie six mois plus tard « ne pas avoir bougé d’un pouce son dispositif » malgré cette tourmente initiale. « On avait des procédures déjà testées et on les a suivies. Les gens se sont nourris de rumeurs. Nous savions qu’il n’y avait aucun danger », dit-elle. À la suite des coups de feu, Trajets a dû engager un vigile pour la nuit. Mais l’association s’est surtout occupée de mobiliser quelque 300 bénévoles qui ont donné de leur temps pour assurer des cours de français, l’intendance des repas et maintes sorties pour les 47 migrants, notamment au Mémorial de Caen et sur les plages du Débarquement. Pascal Théault, entraîneur de l’équipe de foot de Caen, a proposé des entraînements. « Au début j’avais moi-même des inquiétudes. Mais quand j’ai vu l’appel au bénévolat, j’ai décidé d’aller voir », raconte Jean-Pierre Tavec, un ancien instituteur brévinois à la retraite qui a donné des cours de français. « Je me suis dit : qu’est-ce qu’on fait ? On les accueille ou on les remet à l’eau ? » Jean-Pierre dit que toute une petite communauté s’est formée pour aider ces arrivants exotiques et que la fête de départ a été « émouvante ». L’instituteur s’inquiète toutefois pour la suite. Il dit que les migrants sont loin d’être au bout de leurs peines. La plupart vont atterrir dans de nouveaux centres d’accueil, qui n’ont pas tous le côté estival et chaleureux de Saint-Brevin. « Parviendront-ils à s’intégrer ? Pourraient-ils glisser sur la mauvaise pente », s’inquiète-t-il.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/592210 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Israel fighting to stop FIFA from suspending settlement soccer teams -
    Move against six teams initiated by Palestinians, backed by FIFA panel; Israelis pessimistic

    Barak Ravid Apr 20, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.784442

    Israel is increasingly concerned that when the FIFA Congress holds its annual meeting in another four weeks, the international soccer federation will decide to suspend six Israeli soccer teams based in West Bank settlements.
    Consequently, ambassadors in dozens of capitals worldwide have been ordered to work with officials of their host countries to foil the move.
    An official involved in the issue said that two weeks ago, Israel learned that Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub had asked to put the issue of the settlement teams on the agenda of both the FIFA Council, which will meet in Manama, Bahrain on May 9, and the FIFA Congress, which will meet in the same city on May 10 and 11.
    On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry sent a cable to dozens of Israeli embassies instructing embassy staffers to try to persuade their host countries to remove the issue from FIFA’s agenda or ensure that no vote on it takes place. But the official said Israel must be prepared for the worst-case scenario, in which a vote does take place. If so, Israel’s chances of winning are negligible.
    “Our growing assessment is that the FIFA Congress is liable to make a decision on suspending six Israeli teams that play over the Green Line, or even on suspending Israel from FIFA,” the cable said. “We urge you to contact your countries’ representatives on the FIFA Council as soon as possible to obtain their support for Israel’s position, which rejects mixing politics with sport and calls for reaching an agreed solution between the parties ... and to thwart an anti-Israel decision if it is brought before the council.”

    #BDS #Israel #Palestine

    https://seenthis.net/messages/591331 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Barghouti’s N.Y. Times article met by Israeli ritual of diversion and denial -

    Comparing article to terror attack and suggesting sanctions against the Times, as Michael Oren did, is more damaging to Israel’s image

    Chemi Shalev Apr 19, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.784060

    At the end of his opinion piece in the New York Times about the Palestinian prisoners’ strike, Marwan Barghouti was originally described as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” After 24 hours of outrage and condemnation, an editor’s note conceded that further context was needed, pointing out that Barghouti had been convicted on “five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.” News of the clarification spread like wildfire on social media. It was described in glowing terms as yet another historic victory of good over evil and of the Jewish people over its eternal enemies.
    It was another example of the time-tested Israeli ritual of accentuating the insignificant at the expense of the essence, the results of which are well known in advance. First you manufacture righteous indignation over a minor fault in an article or the problematic identity of its writer, then you assault the newspaper or media that publicized it and cast doubt on its motives, then you demand to know how this was even possible and who will pay the price. In this way, the Israeli public is absolved of the need to actually contend with the gist of the article or public utterance, in this case Barghouti’s claims that he was physically tortured, that almost a million Palestinians have been detained over the years, that their conviction rate in the Israeli military court system is absurdly high, whether it’s really wise to hold as many as 6,500 security prisoners in custody at one time and so on.
    The guiding principle of this perpetual war waged by Israel and its supporters against the so-called hostile press - to paraphrase a legendary John Cleese episode about a visit by German visitors to Fawlty Towers - is “Don’t mention the occupation!” After one spends so much energy on protestations and exclamations of how unthinkable, how outrageous and how dare they, there’s very little enthusiasm left to consider eternal control over another people or the malignant status quo that many Israelis view as the best of all possible worlds or how is it even possible that someone who is defined by former Israeli Ambassador and current deputy minister Michael Oren as a terrorist and a murderer on a par with Dylann Roof, who killed nine African American worshippers in a church in Charleston, is considered by many people around the world, including those at the New York Times, as an authentic leader whose words should be read and heard.
    In an interview with IDF Radio on Tuesday, Oren put the ingenious diversionary strategy on full display. He described Barghouti’s op-ed as nothing less than a “media terror attack.” To this he added a pinch of conspiracy theory with a dash of anti-Semitism by claiming that the Times purposely published Barghouti’s article on Passover, so that Israeli and Jewish leaders wouldn’t have time to react. Then he approvingly cited the wise words of his new oracle, Donald Trump, describing the publication of the article and its content as “fake news.” And for his grand finale, Oren intimated that the proper Zionist response would be to close down the Times’ Israel office, no less.
    In this way, anyone who wants to address Barghouti’s claims substantively, even if it’s to criticize them, is seen as collaborating with a terrorist and enabling terror. It’s the same system by which anti-occupation groups such as Breaking the Silence are tarred as traitorous, backstabbing informants so that no one dares consider the actual testimonies they present about the hardships of occupation and the immorality of forcing the IDF to police the West Bank. What’s hilarious, however, is that so many Israelis and Jews are convinced that articles such as the one written by Barghouti, which most readers probably view as yet another tedious polemic about an intractable Middle East conflict, somehow causes more harm to Israel’s image than a senior government official who compares a news article to a terror attack and who recommends closing down the offices of the most widely respected news organization in the world, a la Putin or Erdogan.

    #Palestine #Israel #Barghouti

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590911 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • With Palestinian prisoner strike, Barghouti challenges Abbas’ leadership
    Will a Palestinian hunger strike rain on Trump’s peace plans ?

    Amos Harel Apr 18, 2017
    read more : http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783911

    The hunger strike that nearly 1,200 Palestinian security prisoners in Israel began on Monday is expected to ratchet up the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming days. If complications occur and the strike lasts for an extended time, it is liable to take over the security and diplomatic agenda at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is declaring its intention to restart the peace process.
    >> Get all updates on Israel, Trump and the Palestinians: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    However, like another crisis that escalated in recent days over the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, it appears that the background to the strike has to do with intra-Palestinian power struggles as much as it has to do with the struggle against Israel.
    The hunger strike is basically the initiative of a single person, Marwan Barghouti, the highest-ranking Fatah prisoner in Israel. The media attention from a prolonged strike will serve him in his moves vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority leadership, which is officially supporting the strike but in actuality is concerned about any outcome that could advance the standing of the imprisoned leader, who is not especially liked by President Mahmoud Abbas and his people. Barghouti already took credit for an initial success on Monday with an Op-Ed in The New York Times. (For some reason, the editors of the newspaper omitted from the publication the reason Barghouti is in prison: He was arrested and tried in 2002 for dispatching terrorists to carry out attacks at the height of the second intifada in which five Israeli civilians were killed. The piece has since been amended with an editor’s note amid a wave of heavy criticism.)

    #Palestine #Barghouti #grèvedelafaim

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590389 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Un retour au calme reste tributaire du résultat des négociations avec Fateh el-islam - L’Orient-Le Jour

    Le Fateh reste intransigeant et assure que l’option militaire reste maintenue jusqu’à en finir avec les îlots d’insécurité dans le camp. Il exige notamment que Bilal Badr, le chef de Fateh el-islam, qui avait ouvert le feu vendredi contre les combattants du comité conjoint de sécurité, se rende aux autorités libanaises. Cette condition a été solennellement confirmée par le commandement politique des forces nationales et islamiques du camp, au nom duquel Fathi Abou el-Ardat s’est exprimé, au terme d’une réunion qu’il a tenue hier dans l’après-midi. Celui-ci n’accepte pas moins qu’une reddition de Badr. Il exige parallèlement un déploiement de la force conjointe de sécurité dans tout le camp, notamment dans le quartier de Tiri, fief du chef de Fateh el-islam, et une dissolution de ce groupe terroriste qui doit remettre ses armes à la force commune.
    Il a été décidé d’accorder un délai de six heures à Bilal Badr pour répondre. Le porte-parole de Esbat el-Ansar, le secrétaire général des Forces islamiques du camp, un représentant du Hamas et deux autres de Jund el-Cham, Haytham Chaabi et Rami Ward, ont été chargés de communiquer ces conditions à des proches de Badr, Oussama Chehabi et Mohammad Arefi, tous deux membres des Jeunes musulmans, un groupe intégriste, qui ont accepté ces conditions.
    Haytham Chaabi et Rami Ward devaient à leur tour rencontrer Bilal Badr qui a cependant refusé de se rendre, mais a accepté de « disparaître ». Il a fait savoir au commandement palestinien, par le biais de ses médiateurs, qu’il acceptait un déploiement des combattants de la force commune à Tiri, et qu’il ne s’opposait à la participation d’aucune faction, mais qu’il refusait de se rendre ou de livrer ses hommes à la force commune. Il a assuré que lui et ses partisans étaient prêts à « se retirer et disparaître ». Le commandement du Fateh et les factions palestiniennes ont promis de répondre à leur tour à ces conditions.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/588084 via assalam12

  • Les tiraillements interpartisans bouleversent la donne - Nada MERHI - L’Orient-Le Jour

    Appuyé par Nakabati, un mouvement proche de Beyrouth Madinati, ainsi que par le Parti socialiste progressiste (PSP), les Kataëb et le Renouveau démocratique, Jad Tabet a remporté la bataille au terme d’une longue journée électorale, avec 4 079 voix contre 4 058 (soit un écart de vingt et une voix) accordées à Paul Najm, candidat du Courant patriotique libre (CPL) et président de la liste consensuelle des partis CPL, courant du Futur, mouvement Amal et Hezbollah, auxquels s’est rejoint in extremis le parti des FL au terme de longues discussions entre les FL et le courant du Futur qui se sont prolongées tard dans la nuit de vendredi à samedi. Pierre Geara (candidat indépendant appuyé par le PNL) a obtenu de son côté 1 082 voix.

    Que s’est-il donc passé au cours de cette journée électorale ? Selon une source bien informée, « la bataille était très politisée ». Détaillant les raisons ayant mené à ces résultats, elle indique que le PSP a, dès le départ, appuyé la candidature de Jad Tabet et concentré ses forces sur cette candidature. Elle rappelle que la relation entre le mouvement Amal et le CPL n’a jamais été bonne, et, par conséquent, le vote chiite en faveur de Paul Najm a été à son plus faible taux. Toujours selon cette source, il existe un fort mécontentement au sein du courant du Futur concernant la gestion du parti, qui s’est traduit lors des élections municipales par le nombre de votes accordés à Beyrouth Madinati et samedi par les voix accordées au candidat de Nakabati.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/587689 via assalam12

  • Russia, the friend of our enemies

    In Washington it’s becoming clear that the West’s real enemy in the Middle East is Iran, which wields power in Lebanon and Syria and is now trying for Yemen

    Moshe Arens Apr 18, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.783861

    An enemy of our enemies is our friend, and a friend of our enemies is presumably our enemy. So what should we make of Vladimir Putin, an enemy of the Islamic State, which is an enemy of Israel, but who is also a friend of Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, who are also enemies of Israel? Has Putin made the wrong choice?
    Sergey Lavrov, Javad Zarif and Walid Moallem, the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Syria, sit in Moscow coordinating their positions, claiming the charge that Bashar Assad’s forces used chemical warfare on Syrian civilians is a complete fabrication, despite the incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Putin no doubt knows the truth but has put his money on the Syrian president – who is allied with Iran – and has decided to stick with him for the time being. Presumably he is still counting on Assad to defeat his adversaries with the help of Moscow and Tehran, thus maintaining Russia’s military presence and influence in Syria. He has continued good relations with Israel, and yet backs forces that are pledged to Israel’s destruction. How has it come to this pass?
    At least part of the answer is the attempts by ISIS, that zany radical Islamist group, to set up a caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria, as well as the organization’s success with making inroads into Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and spreading terror aimed at “nonbelievers” throughout the world. A worthy enemy for sure. A broad coalition has been formed to fight ISIS, and Assad insists he is a member of that coalition. Assad the terrorist is fighting terrorists and insists that he deserves the world’s sympathy and support. Putin, intent on fighting the Islamic State, has decided to help Assad “fight terrorism.”
    U.S. President Donald Trump began going down the same path. At first he saw no need to replace Assad, since he was presumably fighting ISIS, the common enemy. In the profusion of “enemies” taking part in the bloody war in Syria, ISIS looked like the worst of the lot. But militarily, it turned out that it was also among the easiest to defeat. There was no need to ally oneself with Assad to accomplish that aim. If you fight alongside Assad, as the Russians are doing, you find yourself fighting alongside Hezbollah, which is financed, trained and equipped by Iran. Iranian militias are taking part in the fighting against ISIS in Mosul. How do you solve this puzzle?
    Trump seems to have found his way out of this labyrinth by condemning Assad for using chemical weapons against civilians and sending him a message via 59 Tomahawks to make sure he and everyone else knows that he means business. Assad’s latest chemical attack against his own citizens dispelled any illusions people may have had about him – and his allies. Maybe the message will be coming through in Moscow as well.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590390 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • What did Tillerson’s Russia trip achieve?


    ❝Moscow also seized the moment of direct contact with the top US diplomat to clarify its own positions. On Syria, the departure of President Bashar al-Assad was and remains a non-starter for Russia. What neither Lavrov nor Putin would probably say to Tillerson, but do expect him to understand, is that Russia has invested so much into Syria now, politically and militarily, that Moscow’s primary concern is less about Assad than about the principle, power and prestige of maintaining its position. Hence, any plan that might move Moscow from this standing would have to involve some face-saving mechanism that the Kremlin could package as a win-win internationally, and as a “decision made in Russia’s best interest” domestically.

    So far, the US vision has been to get Russia on board by offering Moscow an opportunity to “play a constructive role in the humanitarian and political catastrophe in the Middle East.” That approach misses a critical point in Russian political psychology: The Kremlin believes it has already stepped up as a constructive player to counter the increasingly destructive forces unleashed by the United States. This belief — no matter how uncomfortably it sits with anyone — is not entirely groundless. Many players in the region perceive Russia in this capacity, even if it’s just for their own political reasons.

    A senior Russian diplomat speaking with Al-Monitor not for attribution said: “[Russia] stepping aside from Assad would mean, among other things, an ultimate win for the US regime-change policy. It would indicate that no matter how long you resist this policy, you’ll be made to surrender. That’s a serious red line in Russia’s foreign policy thinking, the one that President Putin cannot afford to be crossed — not for all the tea in China, or should I say, a chocolate cake in Mar-a-Lago?”

    Therefore, Tillerson’s statement on the importance of Assad’s departure in a “structural, organized manner” is seen in Moscow as a positive outcome. It leaves open the prospect of returning to the political process that was underway for several months before the gas attack and the airstrikes.

    However, it might be much more difficult to achieve now, as the parties focus on reinforcing their respective and contradictory narratives. Reports of US intelligence intercepting communications between Syrian military and chemical experts about preparations for a sarin nerve gas attack in Idlib are a powerful argument for the audience that shares the “American narrative” — as Moscow sees it. However, it is producing counternarratives on the Russian side. One such narrative, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, suggests that of all “12 facilities that stored Syrian chemical weapons, 10 were destroyed in the timeline between 2013 and 2016 under the watch of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons … [while] the remaining two compounds are out of reach for the Syrian government since they are located in the territory controlled by the so-called opposition.”

    Also, as Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, put it: “The recitation of mantras on the necessity of Assad’s departure” won’t budge Moscow’s position an inch, nor will it help with a political solution to the Syria crisis. On the contrary, it will only reinforce Russia’s position on Assad. So far, Moscow has been operating on the principle of presumed innocence and calling for an “unbiased probe” into the Syria attack. To Russia, a refusal to have such an investigation would show that the case against Assad is being pursued for political rather than humanitarian reasons.

    Remarkably, a recent Mir interview with Putin indicates Moscow hasn’t reached a concrete conclusion on exactly who perpetrated the attacks. Putin’s statement that it could have been the Syrian opposition or the Islamic State (IS) is based primarily on the opposition’s hope of saving itself in a losing battle and on previous IS chemical attacks in Iraq. On factual grounds, however, Russia’s arguments look as shaky as the West’s “confidence” that Assad did it. Yet this state of affairs leaves enough space for US-Russia cooperation on investigating the case, if only inspired by a solid political will.

    Though it seems counterintuitive, Russia’s veto of the UN resolution on Syria proposed by the United States, the UK and France hours after the Tillerson-Lavrov press conference is an important sign of Russia’s commitment to work with the United States. Deputy Russian UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov explained the veto by saying the resolution assigned guilt “before an independent and objective investigation” could be conducted.

    However, Russia probably had decided to veto the resolution even before Tillerson and Lavrov met, to give itself more time to think through the negotiation results. Moscow wanted to come up with a fresh proposal at the UN that would reflect a more engaging approach for both US and Russian interests. Hence came Safronkov’s heated and scandalous lashing out against British diplomat Matthew Rycroft, whom he accused of trying to derail a potential agreement on Syria and Assad’s fate that Moscow had hoped to reach with Washington. "Don’t you dare insult Russia!” he said at the UN Security Council meeting April 12.

    Rycroft had accused Moscow of supporting Assad’s “murderous, barbaric” regime.

    In general, the visit left a feeling in Moscow that the initiatives Lavrov and Tillerson discussed will face intense scrutiny in Washington. The confrontational rhetoric flying from both capitals will remain prevalent. But the parties have articulated a need and agreed on some — though not many — concrete steps toward managing the situation. It’s not likely to lead to a “great-power alliance” or help both parties accomplish much together. But it might be just what’s needed to take the two back from the brink of a direct military clash and spare the world even more uncertainty. Given the current circumstances, this might be the most comfortable paradigm for the bilateral relations — at least until Putin and Trump meet face to face.

    Editor, Russia-Mideast 
    Maxim A. Suchkov, PhD is the Editor of Al-Monitor’s Russia-Mideast coverage as well as an expert of the Russian International Affairs Council. He is also an Associate Professor of International Relations and Deputy Director for Research at the School of International Relations, Pyatigorsk State University based in the North Caucasus, Russia. Formerly he was a Fulbright visiting fellow at Georgetown University (2010-11) and New York University (2015). He is the author of the “Essays on Russian Foreign Policy in the Caucasus and the Middle East.” On Twitter: @Max_A_Suchkov

    #Russie #Syrie #Etats-Unis

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590090 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • 700 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel declare mass hunger strike -

    Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have threatened hunger strike over past several weeks in campaign spearheaded by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti

    Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury Apr 16, 2017 1
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.783772

    700 Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israel announced the start of a indefinite hunger strike in prisons on Sunday, according to a statement released by Israel’s Prison Service. Imprisoned Fatah official Marwan Barghouti spearheaded the campaign, though Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners held at Hadarim prison will join the campaign largely associated with Fatah.
    The hunger strike is expected to expand Monday morning, with over 2,000 prisoners participating. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced his support of the strike, as did leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
    Nearly 2,900 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel and affiliated with Fatah have threatened to launch a hunger strike over the past several weeks. Barghouti, the campaign’s organizer, has often been floated as a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
    The fate of more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, whose number has grown considerably in the past 18 months due to the wave of stabbing and car-ramming attacks (the “lone-wolf intifada”), affects nearly every family in the territories. A hunger strike, if it is widely observed and well managed, could immediately turn up the heat in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. If down the road a threat to the strikers’ lives develops, it could lead to another wave of violence.
    The April 17 date was originally chosen with an eye on the start of Ramadan, which is toward the end of May. A full hunger strike during Ramadan, when Palestinians fast by day and break their fasts at night, could be religiously problematic. Setting a potential strike period of a little over a month will allow the struggle against Israel to escalate, but also limits it in time so as to prevent a total loss of control. It also marks the annual Palestinian prisoners day anniversary.

    #Palestine #Prisonniers #Israël

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590059 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Leaks : #NSA Penetrated Mideast Banking Networks — News from Antiwar.com

    The leaks provided information showing that #SWIFT bureau in the Middle East, EastNet, made some very poor security choices, which would’ve allowed the NSA to easily attack essentially all of the banks on the network, as soon as they had compromised the first one.

    #Hacking, mon œil : tous les gens placés à la tête des banques centrales arabes le sont par les #Etats-Unis.


    https://seenthis.net/messages/589890 via Kassem

  • Forget Iran. Is the fertility rate the real threat to Israel’s existence? -

    Israel could be home to 36 million people by 2050, according to some forecasts. Prof. Alon Tal explains why irresponsible government policies have created a ticking time bomb, and why the state has to get out of its citizens’ bedrooms

    Netta Ahituv Apr 15, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783515

    During its 68 years of existence, Israel has changed from a sparsely populated country to one of the most densely populated in the Western world. That is how Prof. Alon Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University’s public policy department, opens his latest book, “The Land is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel” (Yale University Press).
    Israel’s population density, he writes, is 1,000 percent higher than the OECD average. Conservative forecasts say that Israel will have 23 million inhabitants by 2050. Less conservative forecasts predict 36 million inhabitants by then. And well before then, in 2030, Israel will have doubled the population it has today.
    Reading this book is like reading a dystopian novel. I thought about my children growing up in such a cruel, crowded place and I was afraid.
    Tal says he wrote the book because of his three daughters. “I’m a diehard Zionist and I want them to continue living in Israel,” he explains. Even though his book is pessimistic and frightening, Tal, surprisingly, describes himself as an optimist. “I’ll tell you why. Our society has a taboo about not bringing children into the world – everyone feels they have to have children. But we’re a developed country, in which it’s relatively easy to break taboos.
    “Over the last 10 years, society’s attitude toward the gay community has changed completely. Society threw out one of the hardest taboos to get rid of and entered a much healthier phase. With regard to childbirth, too, if we tell the truth I think we’ll get there. The very fact that a conversation is happening is important. Ultimately, we’re a pragmatic people.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/589610 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Egypt-Saudi Arabia Handshake between king and president points to waning tensions | MadaMasr


    Some signals suggest a possible de-escalation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose usually tight relations have recently witnessed turbulence.

    The Jordan Arab Summit, held on March 29, saw the leaders of both countries, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Salman bin Abdulaziz, meet and shake hands, while their respective ministers of foreign affairs agreed to set up a “committee for political follow-up.”

    Meanwhile, earlier in February, King Salman visited the Egyptian wing at the Jenaderiyah cultural festival, in what was interpreted as a gesture of restoring relations.

    One of the latest points of contention between the two countries concerns the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, which Egypt ceded sovereignty over in April 2016, following an agreement between the two governments. However, the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court ruled on January 16 against the agreement, declaring the islands Egyptian. The court argued that the Egyptian government failed to submit documents in support of Saudi sovereignty.

    But the legal contest didn’t stop here. On April 2, a court of urgent matters annulled the supreme court’s ruling. Parliament took a decisive step forward on April 10, one day after Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria and Tanta were bombed in attacks claimed by the Province of Sinai. In its first session after the bombings, Parliament referred the case to its legislative and constitutional affairs committee, where it will undergo a preliminary vote before a final vote takes place in the general assembly. It is a development aligned with what officials have said in closed quarters for some time. 

    “Saudi Arabia has reassurances from Cairo that it will receive the two islands in any case. But it also blames Cairo for managing this issue poorly,” says an Egyptian official working at the General Secretariat of the Arab League, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/589235 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Mélenchon et l’Orient compliqué par Denis Sieffert | Politis


    Bien entendu, je ne crois pas que Jean-Luc Mélenchon ait de la « sympathie » pour Poutine, mais il emprunte son discours, et c’est bien trop. Cela dit, je partage son inquiétude après la réaction de Donald Trump, non pas tant d’ailleurs en raison de l’acte lui-même (la Syrie, hélas, en a vu d’autres depuis six ans) que du caractère impulsif qu’il révèle. On attendra cependant pour en juger. Si l’opération n’est suivie d’aucun effort diplomatique visant à favoriser une transition politique, on pourra crier à l’esbroufe.

    Il est probable que la tragédie syrienne ne déterminera pas le vote des électeurs français. Et puis, dans cet Orient décidément compliqué dont parlait de Gaulle, un autre dossier historique nous réconcilie avec Mélenchon. C’est le conflit israélo-palestinien. En regard des frilosités de Benoît Hamon, qui s’est récemment déclaré hostile au mouvement Boycott, désinvestissement, sanctions (BDS), le candidat de la France insoumise ne mégote pas son engagement. On est d’ailleurs frappé par la symétrie des situations : veto russe d’un côté, pour permettre à Assad de massacrer à loisir ; veto américain de l’autre, encourageant Israël à coloniser jusqu’à obsolescence les Territoires palestiniens. Cette symétrie mortifère devrait nous prémunir contre toutes les formes d’inconditionnalité. « Guérissez de cette manie d’attendre d’un homme une perfection qu’il ne peut pas avoir », a lancé joliment Mélenchon à la foule qui scandait son nom à Marseille. Pour notre part, nous sommes guéris.

    #Syrie #Palestine #electionprésidentielle #Mélenchon

    https://seenthis.net/messages/588867 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Australia is in danger - Opinion - Israel News
    The state Down Under recently revoked the visa of a noted Palestinian activist - the long arm of Israel is most apparent
    Amira Hass Apr 12, 2017 4
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.782881

    Why is the Australian government afraid of Bassem Tamimi, a Palestinian from the village Nabi Saleh? Last Wednesday, Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection revoked the entry visa it had given him a day earlier.

    Tamimi, who with other popular resistance activists in his village and across the West Bank have managed to focus international attention on the evils of the Israeli occupation, was invited by a left-wing organization and some pro-Palestinian groups to hold a series of lectures and meetings in Australia. No less than Tamimi, they were shocked by the hysterical revocation of his visa. As expected, pro-occupation and pro-expulsion websites were delighted.

    The revocation document, posted on the website of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), says “the [immigration] department has recently been made aware of information that indicates there is a risk that members of the public will react adversely to Mr. Tamimi’s presence in Australia regarding his views of the ongoing political tensions in the Middle East. his presence in Australia would or might pose a risk to the good order of the Australian community.”

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin couldn’t have better formulated the rationale for silencing any opposition voice. What Tamimi has to say is displeasing to some anonymous parties, it says in Australian. Between the lines: These elements could run wild trying to silence him or disrupt events he participates in, and the Australian authorities would be helpless to confront them due to their power (political, financial, physical, or all of these combined). In other words, he constitutes a risk because others will abuse their power in order to silence him.

    #Australie #Palestine #Israël

    https://seenthis.net/messages/588378 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Russia ’furious’ with Assad over gas attack


    WASHINGTON — Privately, Russian officials are furious with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected April 4 chemical weapons attack in Idlib province that killed over 80 people, Russia analysts said. They see it as threatening to sabotage the potential for US-Russia rapprochement ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first visit to Moscow this week.

    Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib province has threatened to sabotage potential US-Russia rapprochement, and Russia is privately furious with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
    Author Laura Rozen Posted April 10, 2017

    But Russia is also confused by what it perceives as contradictory statements from various top Trump Cabinet officials on whether US policy is shifting to demand Assad’s ouster, to what degree does the United States think Russia is culpable for Assad’s behavior, and more broadly, who from the administration speaks for Donald Trump, they said.

    “Assad committed suicide here,” Michael Kofman, a Russia military expert with the Kennan Institute, told Al-Monitor in an interview April 10. Russia “will never forgive him for this.”

    The suspected April 4 nerve gas attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhoun that killed over 80 people, many of them children, “is a complete disaster” for Russia, Kofman said. “It destroyed the legacy of the 2013 deal [to remove Syria’s chemical weapons] that both countries [the United States and Russia] certified. So it made liars of both of us.”

    He noted, “It provided all the ammunition to sabotage rapprochement between the United States and Russia. Look at the atmospherics. It caused public embarrassment. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has to swallow US cruise missile strikes. Notice he has not defended Assad. It looks bad for Russia.”

    Kofman added, “It demonstrates … in terms of Putin being a power broker … that the Russian role is very aspirational. It prevented him from doing this.”

    “The Russians weren’t happy about what happened,” Nikolas Gvosdev, a Russia expert and professor at the US Naval War College, told Al-Monitor, referring to the April 4 chemical weapons attack. “They don’t like unpredictability … when things happen that throw what they are planning off course.”

    “The Russians don’t like to be surprised,” Gvosdev added. “They don’t like … [to be made to] look like they can’t enforce agreements or don’t have as much influence over Assad as they were suggesting.”

    Trump discussed Syria during a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May on April 10, and according to the British readout, the two leaders said they saw an opportunity to press Russia to break its alliance with Assad.❞
    #Russie #Syrie #armeschimiques

    https://seenthis.net/messages/588198 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Not Just for the Sake of Syrians, but for Our Sake

    Precisely the Arabs in Israel, who are fighting discrimination and oppression, must not stutter when it comes to the injustices perpetrated across the border

    Odeh Bisharat Apr 10, 2017 12:16 AM
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.782651

    What can the Arabs in Israel do for their Syrian brethren? They have no army, no diplomatic clout, no logistical capabilities that could allow them to offer civilian support. The only thing that remains is moral support – words. “You have neither horses nor treasure to give … so let the words rejoice if circumstances be grim,” said the poet Al-Mutanabbi. But the Arab leadership in Israel has failed in the realm of words as well.
    The truth is that even if the Arabs in Israel manage to give verbal support to Syria’s citizens, that will not change the balance of power at all between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, or between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s murderers and the fanatics backed by Qatar. In the situation we’re in, the battle over what position should be taken toward Syria is a battle over the moral image of Arab society in Israel, over its attitude toward the terrible massacre going on across the border.
    >> Israeli Arab party fails to condemn Assad’s gas attack in Syria, slams U.S. strikes <<
    And if in the hard days of the chemical-weapons assault on Khan Sheikhoun almost none of the leaders of Arab society in Israel saw fit to condemn the Syrian regime, that’s cause for concern. Even those who did condemn it, by the way, did so weakly, to the point where it could not be said whether the statements were condemnation or commentary.
    Condemnation of Assad produces furious responses from his supporters, as if he were Mother Theresa, censured out of nowhere. But Assad was part of a bloody regime even before the appearance of ISIS and the Nusra Front. On June 26, 1980, when Hafez Assad waited on the steps of the presidential palace to welcome an African guest, two bombs were thrown at him, miraculously missing their target. Revenge was quick to follow. The next day, June 27, at dawn, a group of some 60 soldiers, led by Muin Nassif, deputy of Rifaat Assad, the president’s brother, boarded helicopters and flew to the Tadmor Prison in the heart of the desert. There, the soldiers broke up into smaller groups and opened fire on the prisoners locked in their cells. Five hundred prisoners were murdered in cold blood. That story appears in Patrick Seale’s biography of the senior Assad.

    #Syria #Palestine #Israel

    https://seenthis.net/messages/587631 via Nouvelles d’Orient