"We are not exactly impotent little babies," ... "They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? … We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a 'Liberty' in reverse." [Brzezinski said]
Saturday, November 30, 2013
World time zones (By Shutterstock.com)
For the past month, the Holy Land was the only place in the world where time zones are delineated not by geography but by ethnography.
By Yuval Ben-Ami
Friday, November 29, 2013
Based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare.
Starring: Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Tom Conti, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, Djimon Hounsou,
Felicity Jones, Alfred Molina, David Strathairn, Ben Whishaw
Prior to the 14 August clashes, the two main protest sites, al-Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya, were densely populated with women, children, and men who have been staging a 47 days-long peaceful sit-in to protest the removal of President Mohammed Morsy. Both sit-ins would at certain moments have a gathering of at least 115,000 people. On July 31, the Egyptian cabinet authorized the interior minister to "take all necessary measures to face these dangers and put an end to them within the framework of the constitution and the law." More than 40 international and national human rights organizations have warned the Egyptian Authorities not to use abusive and excessive force in the dispersal of protesters as Egypt's riot police have consistently responded with excessive and unlawful lethal force in dispersing demonstrations and have showed insufficient respect to protecting the right to life.
This warning resulted from previous massacres committed by the Egyptian Armed Forces and Security Forces against peaceful protesters just a few weeks before. On 8 July, 51 people were killed when lethal force was used on protesters gathered outside the Officer's club, followed by another massacre on 27 July when 74 people were killed, many shot in the head and chest.
On July 19, the EuroMid Observer for Human Rights issued a statement, signed by 11 international human rights organizations, demanding the Egyptian Authorities to protect human lives , emphasizing that "Egyptian security forces and the army are responsible for protecting all protestors, including both supporters and opponents of the deposed president. However, instead, a serious escalation in human rights violations - such as extrajudicial killings; arbitrary arrests; excessive use of force; and deprivation of freedoms of association, speech and expression – has been documented, targeting those who oppose the military's ouster of President Morsi. The Egyptian authorities have not only perpetrated such acts, but also turned a blind eye to their practice by others."
As the Egyptian cabinet was considering the pro-Morsi sit-ins a "threat to national security", human rights organizations and governments around the world kept urging the Egyptian Armed Forces to show restraint, to seek for a peaceful dispersal of the sit-ins and to avoid the escalation of violence.
Yet Egypt has been ruled since its independence by the generals who have since then committed severe human rights violations, showing little respect to human rights and dignity and acting with blatant disregard for human life.
Violating The Rights To Freedom Of Peaceful Assembly and Of Association Of The Protesters
The violence started around 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday 14 August as Central Security Forces (riot police) backed by helicopters and snipers, surrounded both sit-ins and fired tear gas from three different entries while heavy semi-automatic bursts of gunfire were heard.
Eyewitnesses' reports and video footage showed the sounds of successive gun shots and men in the crowd falling to the ground right away, which means that security forces were using live gunfire as snipers were firing tear gas and live ammunition from rooftops and helicopters. EuroMid researcher counted 42 victims in the first hour. Security forces shredded through the labyrinthine networks of tents and tarpaulin shacks, setting them on fire, with women and children still inside of them, causing many casualties and injuries. An eyewitness told EuroMid "a mother and her baby were crushed to death inside the tent", as severe chaos rose among the bloodshed.
The Egyptian Authorities have blatantly violated the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association of the protesters, which states that: "Everyone has the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association [...] and these rights are essential components of democracy".
Responses to demonstrations and sit-ins must comply with international standards, even when some participants err by resorting to violence, including the use of firearms. International standards forbid the excessive use of lethal force, and do not justify the intentional murder of protestors by police or military snipers. The use of force must not exceed what is required to prevent the use of violence. Firing live ammunition at crowds is intolerable and should be considered a criminal act.
The Egyptian Security Forces had announced one safe corridor from which protesters could exit the Rabaa sit-in parallel to Tayaran Street. Protestors and eyewitnesses stated that the security forces deliberately targeted protesters who were using the safe corridor, and attacked physically and verbally protestors as they were trying to escape. Men were executed on the spot while walking with their hands above their heads. The police unlawfully killed protesters who were clearly not engaged in any form of violence.
This was clearly not an attempt to break-up a peaceful sit-in, but a huge military operation against unarmed civilians. The use of deadly fire on such a scale and the killing of so many by the security forces prove that there was an intention to kill with no regard for people's lives.
Within less than 3 hours, the Field Hospital itself and the adjacent halls were completely full with corpses and injured protesters. The injuries varied from bird-shots to live bullets, burns and asphyxiation. Medical staff reported that the "majority of the bullet injuries were to the head, neck, and chest, as well that the angle of gunshot wounds indicated they were shot from above, as some of the deaths were judged to be targeted killings, as the position of the shots could only result in death".
The Egyptian Security Forces are guilty of extrajudicial executions, which are acts outside the realm of rule of law and hence deprive the targeted individual(s) of their right to life, as well as the right to defend themselves against charges against them. The killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process is an unlawful punishment that violates the Declaration of Human Rights.
But who will hold the Egyptian Forces accountable? They have not opened or announced any investigation into any of those cases, which is contrary to the provisions of Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, which state the need to investigate cases of unlawful killings and that the "purpose of the investigation shall be to determine the cause, manner and time of death, the person responsible, and any pattern or practice which may have brought about that death," and that "the body of the deceased person shall not be disposed of until an adequate autopsy is conducted by a physician".
But as death tolls rose, the Egyptian authorities attempted to cover up the numbers of the massacre. The police are refusing to register the cause of death as murder and push families to list the cause as accidents or suicide. The EuroMid researcher was shown official certificates of death were the cause of death was not mentioned.
Places designated for the sole protection of civilians, such as hospital zones, should not be the object of military operations
Additionally, the Egyptian Security Forces imposed a siege on the Rabaa Field Hospital, preventing ambulances from coming through from the very beginning of the violent crackdown. At least one ambulance medic was shot in the head. Snipers were targeting anyone coming in and out of the hospital. It is a criminal act to deliberately attack a hospital or other medical units, whether civilian or military. Medical personnel in general may not be attacked.
According to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, when whenever the use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment. This obligation was violated by Egyptian Forces, specifically by imposing a siege on the Field Hospital, and blocking its entrance, and eventually setting it on fire.
Unlawful Use Of Teargas
Rules under international customary law ban the use of certain weapons as an instrument to contain assemblies. Central Security Forces (riot police), backed by the Egyptian Army, fired teargas canisters and gas bombs directly at the densely populated sit-ins, causing severe cases of asphyxiation and injuries among women, children and elderly. Eyewitnesses reported that as a result of the excessive use of teargas, the stampede rushed forward, and some people were crushed to death. It appears that security forces firing tear gas at the stampeding protesters exacerbated the situation, as people could not see a safe passage and may have been the cause of some of the deaths.
No Respect To Human Life Right and Dignity
The Egyptian authorities may decide, in accordance to national law, to disperse a demonstration, they are bound to comply with a series of obligations, namely, they should respect and protect the life and security of all personas. The Egyptian Security Forces have clearly failed in safeguarding Egyptian lives.
Considering the evidence in the case of Egypt, security agents used lethal force when it was not necessary to protect lives or prevent serious injury and hence clearly violated the international law and standards. They have used live ammunition at crowds; they have extrajudicially killed dozens; they have used excessive teargas, resulting in some people crushed to death and hundreds asphyxiated; they have targeted medical personnel, setting a hospital on fire, and they have not spared women and children. Men were executed on the spot while walking with their hands above their heads. More than 700 have been victims of arbitrary arrests and at least 1500 are missing until this moment.
While human rights organizations are overwhelmed with the magnitude of the Rabaa massacre, a new one followed just 3 days later. Hours after Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah El Sissi urged the Muslim Brotherhood to pursue dialogue instead of "terrorism," 52 prisoners were killed while being transported to a prison outside Cairo. The Egyptian Security Forces are prohibiting human rights organizations and journalists from investigating this new incident. Egyptian security forces are guilty of a pattern of excessive and unwarranted lethal force, which have led to an unlawful mass massacre, unprecedented in modern Egyptian history.
On 15 August, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that "the number of people killed or injured, even according to the government's figures, point to an excessive, even extreme, use of force against demonstrators. There must be an independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of the security forces. Anyone found guilty of wrongdoing should be held to account" she said.
Since the deposal of President Morsy on July 3, at least 1500 people have been killed in Egypt as a result of the erupted violence. But who will investigate these violations of national and International laws? Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, on Egyptian TV, defended and justified the clearing as "necessary to restore the security of Egyptians" and praised the Ministry of Interior and police for showing "restraint to the maximum level".
While Egyptians rose in January 25 to put a halt to all these violations, it is clear, one massacre after the other, that the new military-installed regime does not appear to be interested in safeguarding Egyptian human rights. The path to democracy has vanished under the bloody boots of the army.
Hanine Hassan is a Researcher in Human Rights violations and doctoral student studying aspects of mental torture and humiliation under occupation. She tweets at @hanine09.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The so-called "news" the Egyptian media produces isn't based in reality and is closer to the stuff of science fiction movies. So Joe skewers the media lies and propaganda in a creative and witty video.
There is no doubt that enduring political tyranny is the fundamental root-cause of the many ills plaguing the Arab world from Morocco to Bahrain. Hence, it is essential that this tyranny be eradicated if the estimated 300 million Arabs will have any real hope for a better tomorrow.
We all know that there is not a single Arab country that really enjoys any real semblance of democracy, perhaps with the exception of Lebanon, a country with 35 religious sects and denominations which have maintained an uneasy and often bloody coexistence since independence in the mid 1940s.
Some Arab regimes have succeeded in bribing their often politically-unconscious masses into submission and pacification by granting them hefty financial inducements. But life is more than just eating and mating, and people in some of these oil-rich countries are beginning to ask the hard questions the despotic dynastic rulers have always dreaded.
In other countries, especially the so-called republics, the comparatively more tyrannical regimes continue to employ the same stale nationalistic rhetoric which the masses have been hearing ad nauseam and got fed up with for many decades.
The stale slogans include, inter alia, references to western imperialism, Zionism, capitalism and reactionary forces. Indeed, ever since the end of the Second World War, any Arab daring to demand basic human rights and civil rights from the tyrannical regimes and ruling juntas has been automatically charged with collaboration with Israel or being an agent for Capitalistic or imperialistic forces.
Numerous prominent Arab intellectuals and thinkers were executed on concocted charges. We all remember the great Egyptian Islamic thinker Sayed Qutb as an outstanding example of the victims of Gamal Abdul Nasser's tyranny.
Nasser, undoubtedly a charismatic autocrat, tried to create a false Arab religion, comprising a combination of socialism and anti-Islam Arab nationalism. As we all know, this religion died an ignominious death in 1967 when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan and seized the remainder of Palestine, including the Aqsa Mosque, as well as the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and the Syrian Golan Heights.
We should also remember the fact that a few months before that fateful war, the atheistic Baath party declared the "end of Islam" when one of its leading officials, Ibrahim Makhos, wrote in the Syrian army magazine, Jayshu Shab (or the people's army) that “Allah, religion and morality ought to be viewed as mere mummies in the museum of history.”!
Similarly, Gamal Abdul Nasser was declared as the "last Arab prophet," although he was responsible for the greatest Arab defeat since the Crusades seized Jerusalem in 1099.
The reason for this historical background is to remind readers that the current Arab regimes are mere "extensions" -in every conceivable respect- of past regimes in Cairo and Damascus. For example, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the mass murderer who ordered his henchmen to open fire indiscriminately on peaceful protesters at Rabaa, openly claims he is a political incarnation of Nasser.
Similarly, Bashar el-Assad, the Hitler of Syria who didn't hesitate to exterminate his own people with deadly chemical weapons, says he is following the footsteps of his father Hafez el-Assad, the cursed tyrant who murdered tens of thousands of innocent Syrians in Hama and who is widely believed to have ceded the Golan Heights to Israel in 1967 when he was commander-in-chief of the Syrian army.
Criminals par excellence
The secular Arab media, much of which is vehemently hostile to Islam, keeps referring to Islamists and other free-minded individuals taking part in the current revolutions in both Syria and Egypt as "terrorists."
However, a thorough examination of outstanding facts would reveal that the true terrorists are the regimes, not their opponents.
In fact, there are numerous damn reasons justifying and even necessitating revolution against these nefarious regimes from the religious, moral, human and political perspectives.
In the following paragraphs, I will present some of the hard-pressing reasons making revolution a must.
First, some of these regimes, such as in Syria, have been shamelessly trying to change the religion of 90% of Syrians-from Islam to Godless secularism or heretical Shiism (whereby Ali Bin abi Taleb is worshipped as God incarnate).
Indeed, on every occasion, spokesmen and mouthpieces of the Syrian regime boast of being the guardians of secularism in the Arab world. By making the false claim, they hope to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the West, especially in the aftermath of 9/11 events in the US, when west governments became more allergic to anything Islamic.
Well, true secularism means freedom of religion, first and foremost. It also implies, as in the U.S., protection of religion from government interference. But in Syria and Egypt, this is not the case as everyone working in the mosques and Islamic affairs ministries -from the lowest ranking employee to the cabinet Minister- is appointed by the Intelligence apparatus. In Egypt, the Sheikh of Azhar must be answerable to the tyrant ruling to the country. This was amply evident in the absolute and unequivocal support and backing of the Sheikh of Azhar to the bloody coup against the only democratically-elected president in Egypt's history.
This means that religion is manipulated by the government as religious officials must always be loyal to the regime, not to Islam or to God. This explains the fact the official religious establishment in Egypt and Syria as well as other Arab countries are siding with the manifestly evil and murderous regimes, although it is manifestly clear from the Islamic perspective that many of these regimes are apostates.
Second, in Syria and Egypt, one has to be a member of an atheistic or secular party in order to practice his political rights. The new Egyptian Constitution, being prepared by secular fanatics handpicked by the murderous military junta, allows for the formation of political parties based on atheism, secularism, even sexual perversion but not on Islam. This happens in a country whose constitution stipulates in its second article that Islam is "state religion."
And in Syria, which also proclaims Islam as state religion, anyone convicted of affiliation with an Islamist political party is executed before a firing squad. But this doesn't prevent the regime from claiming that Syria is the most democratic country under the sun.
Third, the secular but fascist regimes legalize and encourage every conceivable violation of the Islamic faith, including gambling, prostitution, usury, media promiscuity and atheism. Indeed, it is well known that while religious people are refused admission into numerous jobs and occupations, atheists and unreligious people are readily accepted into the army, air-force, intelligence and other "sensitive" fields.
In fact, in Syria, and ever since the Baathist coupe of 1963, only Alawites and non-Muslims are accepted in high-ranking jobs in the security apparatuses. In some cases, Sunnis are accepted as a cover-up. However these Sunnis are stripped of any real authority or power.
One Syrian official intimated to this writer that even an Alawhite janitor in any given ministry in Syria has more real power than a Sunni cabinet minister.
Fourth, the ruling regimes in most Arab countries are decidedly anti-democratic. In fact, Arab regimes and democracy cannot be used in the same sentence. They are an eternal oxymoron. Indeed, the highest strategy of any Arab state is to keep the current regime in power. Every other consideration is subservient to that strategy.
Sometimes, some of these regimes are forced to organize elections, mainly under foreign pressure. But before they embark on holding the elections, they promulgate draconian laws designed to maximize the chances of success for anti-Islam secular candidates and/or regime supporters, and minimize the chances of the Islamists.
And in case the Islamists win despite all the odds and hurdles as happened in Egypt in 2012, the regimes, or the deep state apparatus ( e.g. the justice system), resort to canceling the elections altogether for "technical or procedural reasons."
The reason the elections results are cancelled is simple. These people are infinitely corrupt. They are big thieves to say the very least. Hence, they are really worried that any clean government which might arise as a result of the democratic process would put them behind bars and recover the millions of dollars that they have embezzled.
Hence, they follow the adage “let us eat them for lunch before they eat us for dinner."
The real conflict in the Arab world is not between Islam and secularism, although secularism is not part of Islam as there is no real separation between mosque and state.
The real conflict is actually between fascism, which often dons a secular attire, and democracy. The problem for the fascists is that they can't allow true democracy to take root in their countries for two main reasons.
First, a true democracy would overthrow the tyrants sooner or later, forcing them to lose their grip on power and privileges, especially the huge thefts they amassed at the expense of the people.
Second, a true democracy would sooner or later bring the Islamists to the fore.
Hence, the most "reasonable option" for these fascists is to seek alliance with pseudo-liberals, leftists, and religious minorities on the ground that the Islamists are their "common enemy."
To conclude, the Islamists have every right under the sun to revolt against these criminal and bankrupt regimes. Indeed, the Islamists are damn correct in claiming that their very religion (Islam) is at stake especially if these regimes are allowed to linger unopposed and unchallenged.
Khalid Amayreh is an American-educated journalist living in al-Khalil in occupied Palestine.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
This documentary follows Ross Caputi, veteran of the 2nd siege of Fallujah, as he investigates the atrocities that he participated in and the legacy of US foreign policy in Fallujah, Iraq.