Saturday, December 29, 2012

Al Arabiya; The never tiring factory of lies & deceit

"... "Another lie of Al Arabia is exposed
According to Hurriyet Daily, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources deny the defected Syrian officer is "the head of military police and Major General."   They emphasize that Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal is not the head of the military police and even not a major general but a colonel.   An opposition source has said that "He wants to present himself as a hero but only a swindler".

Syria: "Expect more .........."

"... The tragedy continues. The Syrian state, political and military security apparatus will maintain its mini-blitzkriegs – with no second thoughts for “collateral damage”. On the opposing side, “rebel” commanders will be betting on a new Saudi-Qatari-encouraged Supreme Military Council....Expect more horrible sectarian massacres as the one in Aqrab. Here is the most authoritative version of what may have really happened. This proves once again that what the NATOGCC “rebels” are actually winning is the YouTube war. So expect more massive, relentless waves of spin and propaganda – with Western corporate media cheerleading of the Syrian “freedom fighters” putting to shame the 1980s jihad in Afghanistan...Expect more major distortions of context, as when Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, “The fighting will become even more intense, and [Syria] will lose tens of thousands and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of civilians… If such a price for the removal of the president seems acceptable to you, what can we do? We, of course, consider it absolutely unacceptable.”..,Expect more sectarian hatred, as in Sunni Sheikh and al-Jazeera star Yusuf al-Qaradawi casually issuing a fatwa legitimizing the killing of millions of Syrians, be they military or civilian, as long as they are Alawites or Shi’ites.
Sectarian hatred will rule, with Qatar in the lead, followed by Saudis with large pocketbooks and assorted hardcore Islamists. Agenda; war against Shi’ites, against Alawites, against secularists, even against moderates, not only in Syria but all across the Middle East.,,
The new Syrian Army strategy boils down to a major pull back from countryside backwaters and bases, concentrating their troops in cities and towns.
Expect the overall strategy of the NATOGCC club to remain more or less the same; bog down the Syrian Army in as many areas as possible; demoralize them; and keep oiling the terrain for a possible North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervention (the chemical weapons hype and the relentless carping over a “humanitarian catastrophe” are part of the extensive psy ops package).
The Syrian Army may have the heavy weapons; but when confronting a tsunami of mercenaries and Salafi-jihadists fully trained and weaponized by the NATOGCC club, the whole thing may take years, Lebanon civil war-style. That leads us to the next “best” option – which is in fact a spin-off; the death of the Syrian state by a thousand, make it a million, cuts. What’s certain is that the “coalition of the willing” against Syria will have no trouble unraveling once the endgame is reached. Washington bets on a post-Assad regime run by the MB. No wonder King Playstation in Jordan is freaking out; he knows the MB will also take over Jordan and expel him to permanently shop at Harrods.Those paragons of democracy – the medieval petro-monarchies in the Persian Gulf – are also freaking out; they fear the popular appeal of the MB like the plague. Syrian Kurdistan – now definitely on its way to total autonomy and eventually freedom – already keeps Ankara freaking out. Not to mention the future prospect of a tsunami of unemployed Salafi-jihadis merrily ensconced in the Syria-Turkish border and ready to run amok.And then there’s the complex Turkey-Iran relationship. Tehran has already warned Ankara in no uncertain terms about the just-to-be-deployed NATO missile defense system.
That’s got to be the newspeak masterpiece of late 2012. Pentagon spokesman George Little has been adamant that “the United States has been supporting Turkey in its efforts to defend itself… [against Syria].”
Thus the deployment of 400 US troops to Turkey to run two Patriot missile batteries, to “defend” Turkey from “potential threats emanating from Syria”.
Translation; this has nothing to do with Turkey, it’s all about the Russian military in Syria. Moscow has given Damascus not only very effective, hypersonic Iskander surface-to-surface missiles (virtually immune to missile defense systems) but the ground-to-air, multiple target defense system Pechora 2M, a nightmare to the Pentagon if ever a no-fly zone is imposed over Syria.
Welcome to the Patriot vs Iskander face-off. And right in the line of fire, we find Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan – an outsized egomaniac harboring a deep inferiority complex in relation to the Europeans – left in the cold under NATO’s master plan.
Turkey’s Achilles heel (apart from the Kurds) is its self-promoted role of being a crossroads of energy between East and West. The problem is Turkey depends on energy supplies from both Iran and Russia; unwisely, it is antagonizing both, at the same time, with its muddled Syrian policy.
How to solve this tragedy? (read more, here)

Friday, December 28, 2012

"A disaster for the revolution!"

"...It wasn't the government that killed the Syrian rebel commander Abu Jameel. It was the fight for his loot. The motive for his murder lay in a great warehouse in Aleppo which his unit had captured a week before. The building had been full of rolled steel, which was seized by the fighters as spoils of war.
But squabbling developed over who would take the greater share of the loot and a feud developed between commanders. Threats and counter-threats ensued over the following days.
Abu Jameel survived one assassination attempt when his car was fired on. A few days later his enemies attacked again, and this time they were successful. His bullet-riddled body was found, handcuffed, in an alley in the town of al-Bab.
Captain Hussam, of the Aleppo military council, said: "If he had died fighting I would say it was fine, he was a rebel and a mujahid and this is what he had set out to do. But to be killed because of a feud over loot is a disaster for the revolution. ..."

John Brennan: ""Il est possible que nous soyons amenés, finalement, à établir une zone d'exclusion aérienne, dans certaines parties de la Syrie"!

"...Le haut conseiller du président américain pour l'anti-terrorisme, John Brennan, n'écarte plus aucune hypothèse : "Il est possible que nous soyons amenés, finalement, à établir une zone d'exclusion aérienne, dans certaines parties de la Syrie"!"Washington a toujours en vue toutes les options et scrute, minutieusement, la situation, pour comprendre quelle récation positive ou négative peut entraîner chacune de ces options", a-t-il dit, lors d'une réunion du Conseil des relations étrangères. Brennan a reconnu le soutien des Etats Unis a l'opposition syrienne, en faisant, toutefois, cette remarque : "Les Etats Unis veulent s'assurer de la nature inoffensive des groupes auxquels cette aide est destinée". "Al-Qaïda veut profiter de la situation, en Syrie, bien qu'une grande partie d'entre elle lutte pour la liberté et la démocratie". ..."

"... Xmass in the wicked land of Mordor, AKA, Iran"

'Terror in their eyes'
Lysander a reader of MoonOfAlabama & FLC posted this funny comment;
"...  lets take a look at how they celebrate Xmass in the wicked land of Mordor, AKA, Iran. Vs how they celebrate it in the Xanadu of tolerance, AKA Saudi Arabia..."
 'Consorting with the terrorist, Noel-Baba'

Saudi police opened Kills & wounds 8 protesters in Qatif

(Reuters) - "Saudi Arabian police shot dead a Shi'ite protester in the country's oil-producing east late on Thursday, local activists said on Friday, bringing the death toll from clashes in the restive area to 12 this year.
They said police had opened fire on protesters demonstrating about the detention of people from the Qatif district, killing 18-year-old Ali al-Marar and injuring six others.
The authorities confirmed in a statement that a man had died but contradicted the activists' account, saying a security patrol had come under fire and shot back in self defence..."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

FSA brings to you Syria's most dangerous Iraqi sniper 'Shabbih' (suffering from Parkinson)

Thanks to Nir & As'ad;

Wow! "Hezbollah, Muslim Brothers & Hamas (jointly) killed the demonstrators in Tahrir square!"

"... Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gained release from prison during the Egyptian revolution because of his connections to Hamas and Hezbollah according to the lawyer of Hosni Mubarak.The lawyer was being interviewed for an Egyptian broadcast that aired Sunday. Israeli daily Maariv first reported on the story Wednesday.According to the lawyer, the testimony of Omar Suleiman, who served as the head of Egyptian intelligence until being named as Hosni Mubarak’s Vice President during the revolution that ultimately toppled his government, indicated that Morsi was arrested during the protests due to suspicions that he was inciting against the government. In a military operation, members of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, and activists affiliated with Hezbollah breached the prison where he was being held and he along with other senior officials were freed.
The lawyer also said Suleiman, who died under mysterious circumstances in July, claimed Hosni Mubarak  was not responsible for the deaths of protestors during the country’s revolution, but rather it was militants from Hamas and Hezbollah.
According to the program, on January 28 militants from Hamas and Hezbollah infiltrated the Sinai with help from local Bedouins. They then joined Muslim Brotherhood activists who were at Tahrir Square.
In the interview, Mubarak’s lawyer was asked “You mean to tell me that the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman stood before the court and said that whoever killed the protesters were members of Hamas and Hezbollah?” to which the lawyer replied, “Yes, everything was in cooperation and under the guidance of the Muslim Brotherhood.”..."

Kill 'Noel Baba'!

From Turkey "...  Members of an Islamist youth organization in Turkey protest those who are celebrating the new year and stab a model of Santa Claus for showing their anger." (Via AngryArab)

The Christmas 'conspiracy & sedition'

"... Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country's strict religious code.
The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians,..."

Netanyahu & Jordan king meet for 'secret talks' on Syria

"...Senior Israeli officials speaking to Haaretz confirmed on Wednesday that the meeting took place.... Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg reported in The Atlantic earlier this month that Israel has asked Jordan twice in the last two months for a green light to attack chemical weapons facilities in Syria.... Netanyahu has sent representatives of the Mossad intelligence agency to Amman twice already, to coordinate the matter with the Jordanians and receive their "permission" for the operation, ..."

BIU: "An Alawite victory, with or without Assad, is possible ..."

Excerpts of a  roundtable discussion 'The End Of Syria?' (November 2012') at Bar Elan University outlining an Israeli perspective on Syria's likely scenarios  and their implications for Israel and the West.
"...Can assad and his alawite powerbase win out and re-assert  control over the country?
Dr. Max Singer: It could be years  before an outcome is determined  in Syria. Nevertheless, an Alawite  victory, with or without Assad,  is possible because Iran is giving  unlimited help to the Syrian  government’s struggle to suppress the revolt. The minorities and the  business community may be so afraid  of a Sunni government led by Muslim  Brotherhood figures and Salafis that  they deprive the Sunnis of the support  they need to defeat the government.  While it is uncomfortable to be in any  way supportive to a regime as nasty  as Assad’s, it doesn’t seem likely that  a Sunni regime would kill any fewer  Syrians than Assad is capable of. All  the minorities are afraid of the Sunnis,  and with good cause.
Prof. Efraim Inbar: Assad will not run  out of ammunition due to Russian  and Iranian military assistance......   
Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Iran could yet  send real troops to Syria to support  Assad, passing through Iraq with  official invitation of the Syrian regime  and Iraqi consent, something like the  Saudi invasion of Bahrain. This could  change the entire regional picture, since Iranian troops might stay in  Syria forever, and be “invited” by  the Hizballah-dominated Lebanese  government to extend their presence  into Lebanon too. ... Over the  longer-term, I see the emergence of  Kurdish, Alawi, and Druze districts,  with fairly stable self-governance,  perhaps even independent statehood.  This may be the most stable and  preferred outcome (for Israel)
Prof. Hillel Frisch: I disagree. States  don’t disintegrate that quickly.  Lebanon, for example, hasn’t really  functioned as a unitary state for more  than 15 years, yet it still exists as a  country. I think that Syria will hold  together in fragmented fashion, like  Iraq does today. The Sunnis will be  constantly challenged by the Kurds  and Alawites, but the state will remain  as one entity ... 
Prof. Shmuel Sandler: A Sunni-led  federal solution will not hold in Syria.  For such a shared-rule solution, what  is needed is a federal political culture  – which does not exist in the Arab  Middle East. Lebanon tried this and  failed. ...  
Prof. Efraim Inbar: First of all, we can  admit that Israel doesn’t mind that  fact that its adversaries are bleeding  themselves a bit. We have no love lost  for Assad. Furthermore, the conflict is  acerbating the Sunni-Shiite divide, and  bringing Iran and Turkey into conflict too. An outcome that reduces Russian and Iranian influence in Syria would be  welcome, as well.Secondly, we should recognize that  many national security issues in the  eastern Mediterranean will be affected  by the outcome in Syria, including  the character of Cyprus, an island  of great strategic importance. The  eastern Mediterranean also holds  enormous gas deposits that if properly  developed can help Europe become  less dependent on Russia and Turkey.  The crisis in Syria is but a sideshow  compared to the crisis over Iran’s  development of nuclear weapons.... 
Prof. Eytan Gilboa: Israel and the West  are in a lose-lose situation. Assad’s  survival would be a victory for Iran and  Hizballah. His weakness might help Iran  to effectively take over the country and create a zone of influence which would  include Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. A new  regime might be dominated by extreme  Islamic factions who would seek to  destabilize the Syrian-Israeli border....     
Dr. Max Singer: In retrospect, one  thing is very clear: Israel was wise not  to deliver the Golan to Syria. Indeed,  the case for keeping the Golan may  grow even stronger as events unfold...."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Smorgasbord: Back in August, Ahmed Davutoglu: “Assad’s days are numbered, not by years, but by weeks or months"

'Hey Akhmed; I am leaving. Are you too?'

For Turkey: " “What will be the price of Assad staying in power?"

"... a zero-sum game couldn’t be played in Syria. For Turkey to emerge from the Syrian conflict as a country collecting all the bonuses, the Muslim Brotherhood has to fully and absolutely dominate the entirety of Syria. The likelihood of this is close to zero.Foreign-policy makers in Ankara, while putting all Turkish eggs into the Muslim Brotherhood basket, acted recklessly with extreme self-confidence, confident that the Baath regime will be toppled in a short time.
One reason why the neo-Islamist elite ruling Turkey today adopted an attitude that was far removed from realities was their underestimation of the institutional resistance capacity of the Baath regime against an uprising. This was a gross misjudgment..........
Now, the general expectation is for Assad to be ousted in near future, one way or the other.
For the rulers of Turkey, the criterion for the success of their Syrian policy is Assad’s departure. We are expected to applaud the success of their policy once Assad goes. But if we apply concrete assessment criteria, a positive reaction to their wish won’t be possible.
Before answering the question “What problems await Turkey once Assad goes?” we must ask ourselves “What will be the price of Assad staying in power longer than expected?”
Turkey has already paid a heavy political and economic price for Assad clinging to power for 21 months despite all overt and covert policies and measures we employed to topple him.
As an example, we can cite the almost total disruption of our land trade with the Middle East and costs accrued to transport, production and agricultural sectors. Naturally there will be a price AKP has to pay in domestic politics for this situation. The masses of Syrian refugees more or less invited with the hope that they may facilitate setting up a buffer zone did not work. Today, Turkey is carrying alone the financial burden of more than 140,000 refugees.
As long as Assad remains in Damascus, efforts of the Syrian Kurds to achieve autonomy, seen as a threat by Ankara, will gain momentum. The longer Assad stays in power higher the cost will be for Turkey.
But don’t think that Turkey’s problems will ease once Assad departs. On the contrary, the problems will be more diverse, more complicated and confusing, the vast majority of which can be attributed to Turkey’s faulty policies.
Let’s begin with Turkey’s Kurdish issue: Emergence of Syrian Kurds under the leadership of the PYD — seen as Syrian offshoot of the PKK — affixed regional context to Turkey’s Kurdish issue. In this context Iran, Baath, Baghdad, Kurdistan regional government of Iraq and many other elements entered Turkey’s Kurdish equation. A possible intervention by Turkey in this region will bring with it the risk of internationalizing the issue.
If Syria’s Kurdish issue is solved through peaceful means and Kurds achieve their aspiration of autonomy, Turkey will be exposed as a country with the largest Kurdish population but also a country that has given the minimum political rights to its own Kurds.
Meanwhile, the PKK, with weapons it will acquire from the army of the Baath regime, will be even a greater threat to Turkey’s security.
Ankara’s entry to the Syrian conflict as a party supporting the Sunni majority will cause serious problems of confidence in its relations with other minorities of that country. After every massacre and act of brutality against those minorities, there will be attempts to determine Turkey’s part in it. The fact that weapons to Sunni opposition and Jihadist groups were sent via Turkey will burden Turkey with ethical and political responsibility.
Turkey will also suffer headaches because of the activities of Al Nusra Front and other al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria.
And finally we might see the small Syrian Turkmen minority being designated a target of retaliation against Turkey.
Since Assad’s departure doesn’t automatically mean stability, the problems of Turkey’s Middle East trade because of the Syrian crisis will continue during the transition period...."

With a little help of a friend, Bahrain’s government has no incentive to change

"... At present, the Bahraini government believes it has international immunity. It commits widespread human rights violations, and business continues as usual: the government continues to buy arms and negotiate lucrative deals, without having to face any real consequences. This is why the most prominent Bahraini human-rights defenders are languishing in prison. Until the United States starts to put real pressure on its ally, Bahrain’s government has no incentive to change.No matter the price, Bahrainis will keep demanding the very values — human rights and democracy — that the United States claims to stand for. It is an outrage that America continues to back a regime that tramples them."

The long arm of Jabhat al Nusra's 'law'

"...He said that if anything, Jabhat al-Nusra was keeping itself in check. “Many of the people who are wanted by us, who we have scores to settle with, very important people are present in Turkey, in areas close to the border, we can easily reach them. It would be very easy for us, but we won’t do this and yet they still call us terrorists. We are fighting in Syria, and who are we fighting? The security forces, the shabiha [proregime thugs also listed as terrorists by the U.S.] and those who help the regime.”At the same time as announcing plans for an Islamic state in Aleppo, Jabhat al-Nusra has begun undertaking relief efforts in the neighborhoods of the city it is based in, seeking a stronger foothold in the local community, even though paradoxically like many rebel groups operating in Aleppo, its fighters are largely not from the city...."

"Mission Impossible"

"...Fourth, Syria. If the administration is serious about brokering some kind of negotiated solution (and it's far from clear this is the case), it will require some pretty deft multidimensional diplomacy with the regime, various factions of rebels, the neighbors, the Europeans, the Iranians, and the Russians. File this one under "mission impossible." But Kerry has been out ahead of the administration on Syria, at least. Maybe he'll be able to make the case for a more less terrible strategy. ..."

The fantasms of Al Arabiya: "Mr. Makdisi was whisked out of Syria by the CIA and then kidnapped by Hizbullah on the road to Beirut and then Hizbullah surrendered him back mind you, to the US government.

"...Al-Arabiyya (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) is one of the most unreliable and laughable media of all members of the Saudi royal family.  Yesterday, they "reported" that Jihad Makdisi was kidnapped by Hizbullah.  Today, without even referring to their own report from yesterday, they are headlining with the story that Makdisi fled Syria with the assistance of the US government.  So let me try to reconcile Al-Arabiyya's accounts from yesterday and today: Mr. Makdisi was whisked out of Syria by the CIA and then kidnapped by Hizbullah on the road to Beirut and then Hizbullah surrendered him to the US government.  OK. ..."

"you're no longer a journalist, you're basically just the Emir's guard dog"

"... When Assad didn't respond, Al Jazeera then said: Now get to work on Syria! It's not a good feeling when you have the impression that you're no longer a journalist, you're basically just a guard dog responding to your owner's whistle when he tells you to go after this state or that government. It was really quite extreme: this long silence at the beginning, then the frantic involvement afterwards - and with the Qatari ruler always the one calling the tune...(In Qatar) there's not even a government worth taking seriously, much less an opposition. Politics, as you understand it - in the sense of pro and con, interest groups and authorities, whether democratic or authoritarian - does not really exist in the Gulf. Not in Qatar, and not in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates... ...."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'A farewell to Al Jazeera: Forget what you have seen! '

Timely translation by our friend EDB;
A farewell to Al Jazeera: Forget what you have seen!
Vergiss, was du gesehen hast!)
By Aktham Suliman -- 11.12.2012, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The news station Al Jazeera was committed to the truth. Now the truth is being twisted. It is about politics, not about journalism. For reporters this means: it’s time to go.Aleppo, December 2012: An Al Jazeera correspondent had images relating to Syria that didn’t suit the station’s headquarters and which were not broadcast. This is no isolated incident.“What do you regard as a terrorist attack and what as an act of legitimate resistance?” Nabil Khoury, the Lebanese-born spokesman for the U.S. State Department in Iraq, asked me one autumn day in Baghdad. His gaze was reproachful. At the time, Al Jazeera stood accused of supporting the violence in Iraq under occupation, in the eyes of American politicians and the media. "The matter is simple, Mr. Khoury," I replied. "Actions that target U.S. military installations are resistance. Killing Iraqi civilians is terrorism.”  “Name an example!" he demanded. "Well yesterday, rockets were fired at the Al-Rashid Hotel, which houses the U.S. joint chief of staffs. That is resistance.” -  “Aktham! I was at the hotel. The explosions were so close that I was thrown out of my bed. Some friends and colleagues of mine were injured.”With all due sympathy for Mr Khoury, I could not change the definition. Resistance to occupation is an internationally recognized right, irrespective of sympathies. It was the time of  – at least relative – clarity and self-confidence at Al Jazeera. One felt committed to the truth and principles of independent journalism, no matter what the cost. Criticism of the channel from the outside and especially in front of rolling cameras was seen as confirmation, as a welcome promotional material that was spliced together and repeatedly rebroadcast on our station.The declining station Arab viewers will certainly remember to this day the juxtaposition of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said Al-Sahhaaf in one of these episodes. Both delivered the message that Al J. azeera was not telling the truth. Al Jazeera at the time acted according to t. he motto: If both parties to the conflict are saying so, then it is confirmation of the accuracy of our reporting. For extended periods, politicians, parties and governments were furious with Al Jazeera; spectators and staff, by contrast, were happy. The decline from 2004 to 2011 was sneaky, subtle and very slow, but with a catastrophic end."Ali! It's me, your colleague from Berlin. Have you seen the alleged e-mail correspondence between you and Rola circulating on the Internet?” I asked Ali Hashem,  the Al-Jazeera correspondent in Lebanon, on the phone earlier this year. I had just stumbled upon the alleged email communications between Al Jazeera staff published by the so-called "Syrian Electronic Army", a Syrian pro-government hacker group. In one of the emails, the correspondent Ali Hashem had  told Syrian TV presenter Rola Ibrahim, who was working at the network’s headquarters in Qatar, that he had seen and filmed armed Syrian revolutionaries on the border with Lebanon in 2011.
The channel didn’t broadcast the images because they showed an armed deployment, which did not fit the desired narrative of a peaceful uprising. "My bosses told me: forget what you have seen!" Hashem wrote to Rola, as published. She is said to have replied that she was faring no better. She had been "massively humiliated, just because I embarrassed Zuhair Salem, the spokesman for the opposition Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, with my questions during a news broadcast. They threatened to exclude me from interviews relating to Syria and to restrict me to presenting the late night news, under the pretext that I was jeopardizing the station’s balance."Mistakes become the routine"Desirable" and less desirable images? Penalties for interviews that are "too critical"? At Al Jazeera? Here it must be said that in the online propaganda war between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, anything is possible, including lies and deception, as the months since the outbreak of the uprising in mid-March 2011 have shown. Regime supporters wanted to show that the rebellion is solely waged by "armed gangs.” Regime opponents wanted to show that the Syrian army is the only [party] committing [acts of] violence. That's why I asked Ali Hashem whether the story was true. His answer was devastating: "Yes, it's true. Those are really my emails with Rola. I do not know what to do now." Several days later, he knew the answer. Ali Hashem left.Leaving is the only option that remains when these mistakes, which are altogether common in the fast-paced news industry, become the routine and are no longer recognized, treated or penalized as mistakes. "There must be consequences. What do we do if the supervisor who told Ali that he should forget what he had seen, tells us one day: Forget that a hand has five fingers! Does a hand have more or fewer fingers based on the whims and needs of our superiors?” I remarked on Al Jazeera’s Talkback, an internal platform restricted to employees. No reaction. Internal discussions were no longer fashionable at Al Jazeera.
This process did not remain an isolated case. On the contrary: it became a lesson. It quickly became clear to employees: this is about politics, not about journalism. More precisely: about Qatari foreign policy, which had subtly started to employ Al Jazeera as a tool to praise friends and attack enemies.
A hostage becomes a turncoatIt was not the first incident. When Al Jazeera’s Japan correspondent, Fadi Salameh, came to Doha at the end of 2011 to help out for a month at the channel’s headquarters, colleagues asked him how he – as a Syrian – assessed or felt about their Syria coverage. He responded evasively with something like: So-so. And why was that? He said: well, the issue of accuracy is no longer taken as seriously as it ought to be, and mentioned the story of his cousin, who  had been depicted as a deserter from the Syrian military only a few days earlier in a video broadcast on the channel. He was said to have defected to the Free Syrian army in a short recording placed online by the rebels.But that could well be true, replied a colleague. "Not at all.” Fadi replied. “That was a hostage video. The fear apparent on my cousin’s face, having just been captured by the rebels, was unmistakable." Later Fadi went on to say that Al Jazeera now presumes to know better than one’s own family members what is happening to someone in Syria. "Only when I said that my cousin had disappeared two days before his wedding, were some people willing to reconsider," Fadi said. "Thank God no one had the idea that the groom was trying to escape a forced marriage." He doesn’t muster a laugh. His cousin never returned and is presumed dead. When the story was leaked to a Lebanese newspaper, this was the response from a person in charge at Al Jazeera: "Oh, those [damn] yellow papers...""This is an office of the Muslim Brotherhood”Al Jazeera has become the mother of invention: Those who have protested to the editorial board or turned their backs on the station are "supporters of the Syrian regime," as  Yaser Al Zaatra, the Jordanian author affiliated with the Islamist camp, wrote this spring in a guest article published on –  it almost defies belief – Al Jazeera’s very own website.The attacks against its employees [waged] on its own website are meant to obscure the fact that Syria is not the core issue in this internal conflict, but rather the station’s lack of professionalism. Cairo's Al-Jazeera correspondent Samir Omer moved to Sky News earlier this year not because of Syria, but rather, as he told his colleagues: "Because I could not stand it anymore. This is no longer an Al-Jazeera office. This is an office of the Muslim Brotherhood” – in other words, the very group that is supported by Qatar in all Arab countries, and is heralded as the winner of the" Arab Spring.”Ministers are made into prophetsThe Paris bureau chief Ziad Tarrouch was Tunisian, not Syrian. He left in silence last summer, shortly after the presidential elections in France. Unsurprisingly, after weeks of continuous suffering and following repeated subpoenas from the French authorities, because Al Jazeera’s regular guest, Sheikh Yusef Al Qaradawi, had appeared on the station and called for the killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. This had invited a lawsuit against the station in France for "incitement to murder.” "Damn it, I'm a journalist!" Ziad had mumbled to himself during his last days at the station. When the Russia correspondent Mohammad Al Hasan also left later that summer, he replied to media queries from news agencies about his departure by saying  that he was expected to deliver incendiary reporting on Russia. In response, the fanciful minds in AJ’s editorial department sought salvation with the claim that Al Hasan was leaving to open a kabab shop in Moscow.
It is difficult to gauge what the now retired former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said Al-Sahhaaf are up to these days. But Al Jazeera is likely to afford them a belated delight. Both will go down in history as prophets for having declared that "Al Jazeera does not tell the truth." Now, almost ten years later, the statement has unfortunately come true. And so it has finally come to this. Even for me, this means I must bid my farewell. Since October, Al-Jazeera’s Germany correspondent can no longer be found "on the air.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

One Potent Arab State!

"... مشكلة العراق اليوم ليست مالية، بل هي سياسية وتنموية وهي مسائل قد يعالجها اتّحاد مع سوريا. العراق يعاني – وسيعاني أكثر – لأنه صار بلداً غير منتج، عماد اقتصاده تحويل عائدات النفط الى استهلاك (عبر وظائف الدولة ومشاريعها وغير ذلك). وصلت ميزانية الدولة العراقية الى ما يفوق الثمانين مليار دولار، لكنّ ثلثيها يذهب رواتب للموظفين (تصرف على الاستهلاك والاستيراد) بينما لا ينتج البلد وقواه العاملة قيمةً مضافة بالمعنى الاقتصادي الحقيقي. نوري المالكي يكرّر نفس الرهان الذي لعبه الشاه قبله وصدام (والاثنان فشلا): المراهنة على زيادة سريعة في انتاج النفط ومداخيله تحلّ كل مشاكل الدولة، وتسمح للنظام بتمويل كل القطاعات في آن واحد، من غير الاضطرار الى أخذ خيارات صعبة والعمل بجدّ لانشاء بنية مؤسسية وبيئة تنافسيّة. اذا استمرّ العراق على نموذجه الاستهلاكي الحالي، فهو سينتج نسخة جديدة من السعودية، ولن يغيّر مستوى انتاج النفط العراقي شيئاً في الأمر حينها، لأن استهلاكاً غير محسوب لا يوازيه انتاجٌ وصناعة كفيلٌ بحرق كلّ العائدات النفطية مهما عظمت.
أمّا سوريا، فهي تملك برجوازية صناعية وقاعدة انتاجية وقدرات بشرية وخبرات، وهو ما يحتاج إليه العراق. اذا اتّحد البلدان (بغض النظر عن شكل الوحدة)، فسيصبح لديك بلدٌ من خمسين مليون نسمة، بلدٌ حقيقي، وسوق داخلية كبيرة يمكن لها أن ترفد خططاً صناعية ونموذجاً تنمويا. بلدٌ له موارد ولا يمكن شراء نخبه واعلامه ومثقفيه. اتّحاد كهذا هو خير علاج لخطر الطائفية، اذ انّه سيضمّ اغلب المشرقيين في اطار لا اغلبية مذهبية فيه ولا اقلية خائفة، وفيه تنوّع وتعدّد بشريّ لا يسمحان بنشوء الأقطاب الطائفية الانعزالية، ولا بالتقوقع المذهبي. اذا انفتح العراق على المتوسّط، وانفتحت بغداد على دمشق، يتغيّر كل شيء في المشرق، وتعود المنطقة معبراً للتجارة وللنقل وللاختلاط البشري. اتحاد كهذا سيكون قادراً على الوقوف في وجه تركيا (وايران)، ولن يكون تابعاً أو ميداناً لأطراف خارجية...."

The War on Syria will determine a whole new generation & will shape the Levant like never before...

الحرب في سوريا ستحدد هوية جيلنا بأكمله، وسيخرج المشرق العربي منها مختلفاً عما كان عليه قبلها. السرديات القديمة في المشرق (بما فيها الهويات الوطنية والقومية) تتحلل ويُعاد تشكيلها واستبدالها مع تصدّع المجتمع في سوريا، وقبلها في العراق. أوّل سرديّة أسقطتها الحرب هي السردية القطرية و«لبنان\سوريا\العراق\الأردن أولاً»، صار واضحاً للجميع أن حدودنا متداخلة، وأنّ مصائرنا متداخلة، وأنّ خيار النأي بالنفس و«الانعزال» عن المنطقة ومشاكلها هو كلام غير واقعي وغير قابل للتحقيق.

Al Arabiya's lying spasms: 'Jihad Makdisi 'kidnapped by Hezbollah'

As'ad writes, "When media of Saudi royal family members, like the crude and vulgar Al-Arabiyya (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) make up a story, they wait to see if the lie is exposed.  When it is exposed, they make up another lie to cover up the first one.  Al-Arabiyya had reported that Jihad Makdisi had reported and that he was joining the Syrian exile opposition in a senior position. When that did not happen (or at least as of yet), the news station felt that they had to produce another fabrication.  So today they are citing "sources" that Makdisi was kidnapped by Hizbullah.  But don't worry: when this one is exposed as a lie: they will produce another lie. "

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"... US isolation in the Security Council on the subject of new Israeli settlements shows thart there is very little change in US policy ..."

"... An altogether calmer aspect of the Washington landscape was the nomination of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State. As a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former Presidential nominee, it is not expected that he will encounter problems during his confirmation hearings. Kerry is a knowledgeable, dignified man with long experience of foreign affairs. He has moderate, down-the-middle view and has a calm temperament. He is unlikely to change the current trajectory of US foreign policy. His loyalty to Obama has been rewarded. Nevertheless, the reality big foreign policy decision-making power continues to reside with the White House. If, as some expect, present UN Ambassador Susan Rice becomes National Security Adviser, she would wield more influence in that position than as Secretary of State. The instance of the US isolation in the Security Council on the subject of new Israeli settlements shows thart there is very little change in US policy toward the peace process. On Syria, the Administration continues to be pulled – albeit very cautiously and fully aware of the risks – in the direction of a more activist intervention. In East Asia, Obama has exchanged calls with the new leaders in South Korea and Japan. US officials are keenly aware that nationalist instincts are being revived in the countries, both toward each other and in relation to China. With hopes for reform in North Korea, East Asia will absorb a greater amount of US attention in the coming months."

"Go back over there & sit down!"

"... The Sunni monarchy in Bahrain doesn’t want witnesses as it tightens its chokehold over a largely Shiite population. Almost every evening, there are clashes between the police and protesters, with both sides growing more enraged and violent...."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lavrov: "The West ‘prays’ Russia & China will continue blocking Syria action"

"The West has “no appetite” for a military intervention in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday. At the same time, Moscow’s intelligence shows the Arab country’s chemical arsenal is “so far” secured, he revealed.
No one has any appetite for intervention. Behind the scenes, I have a feeling they are praying that Russia and China go on blocking intervention, as sanctioning it would mean they must act – and they are not ready,” Lavrov told journalists on a flight back to Moscow from an EU summit in Brussels. 
The FM was assessing the current mood in the UN Security Council after NATO cleared the stationing of Patriot missiles in Turkey. Ankara and the alliance say this is a containment tool to prevent any further Syrian violence from spilling over the border, but political analysts believe the step might signal the West and their Middle East allies are preparing to intervene in Syria. 
Syria’s chemical arsenal remains one of the major international concerns since the topic first emerged in July. Lavrov says that President Bashar Assad’s government is doing whatever’s possible to secure the weapons.
So far, the arsenal is under control. The Syrian authorities have gathered all the stock in one or two locations. It used to be scattered all over the country,” the FM said adding that Moscow and Washington’s intelligence agree on the matter.
Syria is reportedly in possession of nerve agents, including mustard gas, as well as the Scud missiles needed to deliver them. The country is a non-signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws their production.
Since July, Assad’s government has repeatedly stated that chemical weapons will not be used on Syria, but Syrian officials have not excluded the possibility they might be deployed in the event of “a foreign attack.”
The threat has drawn international condemnation.
The EU, US and many others are also worried that Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the hands of the Syrian rebels, some of whom have links to Al-Qaeda.
But Lavrov pointed out at some inconsistency in Washington’s approach where the chemical arsenal issues overlap with US support for the Syrian opposition.
Our American partners admit that the main threat is rebels seizing the chemical arsenal. The opposition forces include all kinds of groups even ones the US has recently proclaimed terror groups We tell them: ‘Guys but you support the opposition and its armed struggle. This armed struggle might result in exactly what you fear. You decide on your priorities.’ But there is no clear response to that,” said Lavrov.
Russia refuses to act as an intermediary trying to Assad into fleeing, Lavrov also said. At the same time Moscow is not going to accommodate the Syrian president should he step down: “
Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be it China or Russia.

On being asked whether the rebels will eventually oust President Assad, Lavrov replied: “Listen, no one is going to win this war.”...
Moscow insists the Syrian conflict should be resolved through direct and unconditional negotiations between the government and opposition. Russia insists the country should be given the right to self-determination and neither side should be supported. 

The US, the UK, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries in the West and the Middle East, on the other hand, call on President Assad to step down immediately and grant financial and military support to the Syrian opposition forces. But despite all the support, the Syrian National Coalition which was deemed to become an umbrella for all the Syrian opposition groups still failed to unify Assad’s opponents and therefore does not have leverage on all the forces fighting the goverment’s troops on the ground.
The UN says the Syrian war is growing more sectarian than civic with each day and that there is no end in sight to the conflict."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mr. Rasmussen: Is it a Scud or not?

"... Rasmussen said Friday that the Syrian government's use of the Scud-like missiles highlights the need to protect Turkey, a NATO ally...."

Eliot Engel: "Hagel has an endemic hostility towards Israel!"

"... In an interview Friday taped for C-SPAN's Newsmakers, conducted jointly by The Cable and Politico, Engel said that Hagel's record on Israel and Iran make him a poor choice to lead the military. In particular, Engel said he was irked by Hagel's reference to the "Jewish lobby" in an interview with former official Aaron David Miller. (Miller supports Hagel's nomination.)"I think that remark is troublesome, it's problematic. It shows at the very best a lack of sensitivity, at the very worst perhaps a prejudice. And I'm concerned about it, I'm concerned about the nomination," Engel said. "If I were doing the appointing, I would not appoint Chuck Hagel."(Troublesome? Problematic? The truth!)"It seems there is some kind of an endemic hostility towards Israel and that's troublesome to me and troublesome to a lot of people," Engel said. "In the sensitive post of secretary of defense, those are warning bells. Those are red lights."Engel, who represents the Bronx, Rockland, and Westchester, said he has been hearing a lot of opposition to the potential Hagel nomination from his constituents. He also said that Hagel's activities related to Israel, including his statements on Hamas and Israel's influence in Washington, show a pattern of "hostility."
Obama should have the privilege of picking his own team, Engel said, but he predicted that Obama will pass over Hagel to avoid the controversy."