Saddam's Death, Page 25
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 24: april 2013 - may 2013

"Nasser, as the activist leader of Pan-Arabism, became an idealized model for Saddam Hussein. At age 20, inspired by Nasser, Saddam joined the Arab Ba'th socialist Party in Iraq and quickly impressed party officials with his dedication. Two years later, in 1956, apparently emulating Nasser, Iraqi Army General Qassem led a coup which ousted the monarchy. But unlike Nasser, Qassem did not pursue the path of socialism and turned against the Ba'th party. ... Saddam went to Egypt to study law, rising to leadership ranks in the Egyptian Ba'th Party. He returned to Iraq after 1963 when Qassem was ousted by the Ba'ths and was elected to the National Command.
Michel Aflaq, the ideological father of the Ba'th party, admired young Hussein, declaring the Iraqi Ba'th party the finest in the world.... (Dr. Jerrold M. Post)

"Gamal Abdel-Nasser continues to inhabit Egypt because, like Bonaparte, he is the representative of an age of certain national glory, despite the mistakes and the military debacle. But there is more to it than this. Above all, he symbolises for Egyptians the expression of their independent national will. It is this that remains. It is in this that we must seek our project for the future" (Liberating Nasser's legacy, Al-Ahram Weekly 2000)






Saddam began rebuilding the ruins of ancient Babylon. Saddam put up a large mural of himself next to Nebuchadrezzar at the entrance to the ruins. And echoing Nebuchadrezzar's practice, Saddam had his own name inscribed on the bricks used in the reconstruction. The inscriptions are reported to read: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq"

Babylon

An ancient Semitic city in the Euphrates valley, which after 2250 B.C., as the capital of Babylonia, became a center of world commerce and of the arts and sciences, its life marked by luxury and magnificence. The city in which they built the Tower of Babel, its location coincides approximately with that of the modern city of Baghdad - now the center of a vast agricultural community. The Babylonians attached great importance to the motions of the planets, accurately fixed their orbits and worked out tables of the phases of the Moon, whereby eclipses could be correctly predicted. Their great astrological work, "The Illumination of Bel," was compiled within the period of 2100-1900 B.C..
Babylon is generally conceded to have been the cradle of astrology. It was overthrown in 539 A.D., by Xerxes, the Persian. (www.astrologyweekly.com/)


About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare. In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.

At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)


Zie ook: Gilad Atzmon & Het tribalisme

President Bashar al-Assad:
"Armed with knowledge to confront obscurantism"
Syrian Arab News Agency, May 05, 2013

DAMASCUS, (SANA)_ President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday participated with thousands of students in the inauguration of the memorial of Syrian Universities' Martyrs at Damascus University.
After the inauguration ceremony, President al-Assad talked with the families of the martyrs and a group of students, stressing that the terrorist groups targeted university students and institutions because of their obscurantist ideology.
President al-Assad added that these groups which are fighting the Syrian people and their regional and western supporters could not bear the statue of Abu al-Alaa al-Maarri or the Suspension Bridge of Der Ezzor, which is a cultural monument, so they will not bear the idea of Syrian youths who are armed with knowledge to confront their obscurantism and criminality.

Al-Ma'arri: The Rights of Reason

Abul 'Ala Al-Ma'arri (born AD 973 / AH 363, died AD 1058 / AH 449) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.
He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion rejecting the claim that Islam or any other religion possessed the truths they claim and considered the speech of prophets as a lie (literally, "forge") and (some of it) "impossible" to be true.
He was equally sarcastic towards the religions of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He was also a vegan who argued for animal rights.

He started his career as a poet at an early age, at about 11 or 12 years old. He was educated at first in Ma'arra and Aleppo, later also in Antioch and other Syrian cities. Among his teachers in Aleppo were companions from the circle of Ibn Khalawayh. This grammarian and Islamic scholar had died in AH 370 (AD 980/1), when Al-Ma'arri was still a child. Al-Ma'arri nevertheless laments the loss of Ibn '_alawayh in strong terms in a poem of his Risalat al-ghufran. ...
Al-Ma'arri was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker. One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.
Al-Ma'arri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen's journey."
He rejected claims of any divine revelation. His creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward.

His religious skepticism and positively antireligious views are expressed in a poem which states "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."
He was equally sarcastic towards the religion of Islam as he was towards Judaism and Christianity. Al-Ma'arri remarked that monks in their cloisters or devotees in their mosques were blindly following the beliefs of their locality: if they were born among Magians or Sabians they would have become Magians or Sabians. (Wikipedia info)


Muslim societies are in crisis
Dr. Abdul Mu’ti

An Islamic saying – reportedly derived from al-Shafi‘i – states that anyone who wants the world, he should be knowledgeable, and anyone who wants the hereafter, he should be knowledgeable, and anyone who wants both, he should be knowledgeable.

In his eye-opening book 'Closing of the muslim mind', foreign policy expert Robert R. Reilly uncovers the root of our contemporary crisis: a pivotal struggle waged within the Muslim world nearly a millennium ago. In a heated battle over the role of reason, the side of irrationality won. The deformed theology that resulted, Reilly reveals, produced the spiritual pathology of Islamism, and a deeply dysfunctional culture.

Today most of Muslim societies are in crisis – politically, economically and culturally. One of the striking features, as well as arguably one of the main causes, of this crisis is the deficiency in Muslim science and technology. The Muslim world has disengaged from science and the process of creating new knowledge – though they were world leaders in science and technology a millennium ago. ...

Developing multiple approaches to solving problems is necessary. In our world, diversity has been the essence of survival. In Ziauddin Sardar’s word (1988), “it is not the fittest who survive, but those who use plurality of means”. Therefore, monolithic approaches to reform would be insufficient and lead to disappointment.
If Muslim scholars divert their focus of concern away from debating which path is the best onto maximizing their energy to benefit from all paths, we could potentially help flourish science and technology in Muslim countries more rapidly.
Developing multiple approaches could also mean that we have to engage people from diverse fields and backgrounds to address our common challenges, including civil society activists, business people, journalists, politicians, religious leaders and interfaith organizers. The diversity of actors might contribute to the level of success we would able to achieve.

To respond to contemporary intellectual challenges, Muslim community has to enable the (re)emergence of a great deal of responsible, independent, devoted, creative intellectuals from within the community itself, particularly among youth and women – who have been increasingly capable of being active, leading actors in society partly due to much better access to training and education facilities.
The Muslim world today is sometimes said to be devoid of intellectuals (people who pose, define, analyze and solve problems in society), partly because many of Muslim societies seem to be anti-intellectual.
Intellectuals are the group of people in a society who are able to move away from the confines of specialism or professionalism to see problems in their wider, holistic perspective.
Producing intellectuals is surely a much heavier task than producing mere print scholars, researchers, professionals and specialists.

Dr. Abdul Mu’ti is Professor at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) Walisongo, Semarang, Indonesia.

Russia, US agree to seek international conference on Syria
Reuters, Tuesday 7 May 2013

Russia and the United States agreed at talks on Tuesday to try to arrange an international conference on ending the conflict in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Kerry told a joint news conference with Lavrov that the aim was to bring together representatives of the Syrian government and opposition at the conference possibly by the end of this month.

Obama: Moral Obligation to End Syrian Civil War
by Jason Ditz, antiwar.com 7-5-2013

Previous efforts at a negotiated settlement in Syria stalled over US (and by extension pro-US rebel) demands that President Assad unconditionally resign before the talks begin. President Obama is suggesting that the policy may be changing however.
Citing a “moral obligation” to end the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the Obama Administration has now announced a deal with the Russian government to jointly back a negotiated settlement.

Russia’s been on board for quite some time with talks, and has been more than willing to push the Assad government into negotiation. Getting the rebels on board is a more complicated matter, especially since even if the US does start pushing them, the rebel leadership is so disjointed that it isn’t clear how to get them all on board for the talks. With al-Qaeda-backed factions also in the mix, it is entirely possible that a “deal” between the pro-US rebels and the Assad government wouldn’t end the war at any rate.


A Welcome Pause in the Craziness Over Syria
By Eric Margolis, May 11, 2013 "Information Clearing House"

News that the US and Russia will hold a Syrian peace conference this month is most welcome and long overdue. As Benjamin Franklin so wisely noted: “there is no good war, and no bad peace.”
Moscow has been calling for such a conference for two years. But Washington rejected the idea in hope the Syrian rebels it was backing would prevail. However, now that the Syrian war is in stalemate, the US has opted, albeit reluctantly, for a diplomatic effort to end its war before the whole region goes up in flames....

Last week, Israel launched heavy air strikes against Syrian military targets, a clear act of war, killing some 80 Syrian soldiers. It was unclear if Israel was indeed trying to destroy shipments of long-ranged artillery rockets being sent from Iran to Lebanese ally Hezbollah, as it claimed, or launching a campaign to defeat the Assad government by destroying its air and armored forces.
According to reports, Israel did not give the US prior warning of its air strikes against Syria. Here in Washington, many security officials are now wondering if Israel might drag the US into a war with Iran in a similar fashion.

What is clear: Syria is being ground up and pulverized. Like Iraq, it is being severely punished for a defiant, independent policy and refusing to comply with western plans for the Mideast.
Syria is also serving as a whipping boy in the place of Iran – a graphic message to Tehran of what can happen if its nuclear program is not switched off.

Libya: New law will exclude half a million Libyans
By Hadi Fornaji, Libya Herald 7 May 2013

Thanks to the Political Isolation Law, half a million Libyans will be excluded from state jobs and public life, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has claimed.
Jibril, who was once Qaddafi’s Planning Minister, seems certain to fall within the ambit of the legislation passed by the GNC on Sunday, and therefore faces a ten-year ban from political office and government jobs. The law even prevents those deemed to have been close to the fallen regime from being part of any civil society associations.
“ We participated in the overthrowing of Qaddafi,” Jibril told Al-Arabiya TV, “ but the law says we must go. ... Political proscription, should, he said be based on what individuals had done rather than the jobs they had held.
Jibril said that legislation as sweeping as the Political Isolation Law was unprecedented in any country. He also deplored the presence of militias besieging government ministries before the GNC took its vote. “The law was passed under duress and force of arms,” he said...

Libya's rebirth isn't a success so far
The National, May 15, 2013

Most of the news coming from Libya is distressing, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial yesterday. "The country is experiencing successive crises over more than one aspect of affairs: daily living, politics and security, and they are mostly because of the inability of the feeble political elite to build and empower state institutions," the paper said. ...
Libya is experiencing chaos because of armed militias that have taken over the country since the revolution and are coercing government institutions into acquiescing to their demands. ... It is true that the government was elected by the people, but it is weak, the paper said.

Under the controversial new law, many of the government's ministers face the threat dismissal, since they held official positions in Qaddafi state institutions during his 40-year reign.
"Interestingly, there have been only two Arab countries to issue a political isolation law: Iraq was first to introduce such a law, in order to uproot the Baath party and isolate its officials. And now Libya has followed suit," the paper noted.
"Political isolation isn't the only thing the two countries have in common. Both countries also witnessed a US-led Nato military intervention aimed at toppling their leaders."

Libya was supposed to have been freed from dictatorship more than two years ago. By now, it was expected to be on the safe and sound course to democracy and stability. However, the situation on the ground is bleak. The government is debilitated, corruption is at its worst and armed groups that place themselves above the law are dividing up the country into power zones.
"Nato knows how to dismantle a country and topple a regime. What it doesn't know is how to bring about stability and assist in building an alternative state."

Jihadist leader threatens war against Tunisia gov’t
Jordan Times|AFP, May 13, 2013

TUNIS — The head of a radical Salafist group in Tunisia, Abu Iyadh, whose real name is Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, has threatened to wage war against the government, led by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, accusing it in a message posted online of un-Islamic policies.
“To the tyrants who think they are Islamists... know that the stupid things you are doing are dragging you to war,” said Abu Iyadh, the fugitive leader of Ansar Al Sharia who is wanted by the police over deadly unrest last year. “Your war is not against our young people but against religion,” he said, in a statement published on the jihadist group’s website.
“If you continue with these stupid policies, the support of America, the West, Algeria, Turkey and Qatar will not save you when the sound of swords makes itself heard,” the hardline preacher warned.
I remind you simply that our youth sacrificed themselves for the defence of Islam in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Somalia and in Syria, and they won’t hesitate to sacrifice themselves for their religion in Kairouan,” he said, referring to a town south of Tunis renowned for its Islamic heritage.

The authorities have hardened their position towards extremists in recent months, notably by stepping up military operations against jihadists with suspected links to Al Qaeda who are hiding in the western region of Kasserine that borders Algeria.
Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said last week that he would bring to justice “anyone inciting to murder or hatred... or who pitch tents for preaching in,” in a clear reference to the Salafists.

Tunisia’s Theocratic Temptation
By Radia Hennessey, NewYorkTimes May 2, 2013

Two years ago, the news coverage was so hopeful. Now not a day goes by without headline-grabbing Salafis violently imposing their intolerant views on the rest of us.
These Salafis were invisible and unheard of during Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s two decades of dictatorship. Nor did they have a role in the revolution that toppled him. But now, under the protection of the things they detest — democracy, human rights and free speech — they act with the same impunity that Ben Ali’s police enjoyed. The populace is afraid to protest and the government silently approves. ...
[People] misunderstood the concept of secularism. They equate it with atheism. [They don't understand that] secularism protects the right to practice religion by ensuring no one has the right to tell you how to worship. And the few who do know what a secular state means are terrified to advocate for it because there is the threat of Salafist extremists. ...

The duty of the majority is to protect the rights and opportunities of the minority. That’s a basic tenet of human rights and Islam. That Jews, Christians or Baha’i exist in small numbers is no basis for explicit discrimination. Tunisian is a nationality — not a religion. ...
We need a Constitution that protects us from what we’ve suffered under previous regimes, safeguarding against infringements on our freedom of religion, speech and human rights.
The new constitution paves the way for a Shariah-based theocratic state with no checks and balances — and immune from future change or amendment. The obsession with religion has so derailed the work of the Constitutional Assembly that the nature of government is not even well established in the draft text.
The separation of mosque and state, as a way to ensure the freedom of religion, is an urgent imperative if this so-called Arab Spring is not to dry up.

Radia Hennessey is president of the Vineeta Foundation, an NGO dedicated to public health, human rights and governance.

Khatami rallies support for Rafsanjani’s presidential bid
Taghrib News, 17-5-2013

Iran’s former President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami has voiced support for presidential hopeful Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and called on the Iranian public to back him in the June 14th presidential race...
Khatami underlined the need for countering the effects of external threats against Iran and alleviating the economic pressures on the nation, ISNA reported. “Considering all these issues, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani is the most appropriate figure...,” the former president pointed out.
“The reformists enthusiastically welcome Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani]’s presence and see themselves on his side,” the former president pointed out. “I am sure he will also win a portion of the votes of prudent principlists. Hashemi is not exclusive to any specific current,” he added.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is currently the chairman of the Expediency Council, served as Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997. In 2005, he ran for a third term in office, but he lost the race to his rival Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Khatami 2004:
Dialogue among civilizations

"I am happy (the initiative of) dialogue among civilizations has been welcomed by university professors and students," Mohammad Khatami said after delivering a speech at Yerevan State University. Human beings faced war, grudge, terror and two world wars over the past century and terrorism also was expanded in the world, he added.
He noted that dialogue among civilizations seeks the rule of justice in the world and direct human life towards peace.
"Although the idea of dialogue among civilizations was put forward in 2001 [..] warmongers filled the world with war and occupation under the pretext of campaign against terrorism.
"But human conscience is against such actions," Khatami said. (IRNA, 9-9-2004)

Jesus & the Chief Inspector
President Khatami's Address to Seton Hall University

Our call to Dialogue among Civilizations is an invitation to replace the discourse of violence and hostility with a discourse of mutual understanding and reason. Any dialogue among civilizations and cultures is incumbent upon taking into consideration the most fundamental cultural and civilizational element, that is religion, beyond historical prejudice and fanaticism.
In such a dialogue, we should emphasize bright points of essential concordance, and leave aside divisive issues, which derive not from the essence of religions but only from historical factional conditions and only when fanaticism prevails over fairness.
One cannot but wonder in bewilderment at the insurmountable gap between Jesus Christ who was all for love, beauty, freedom and compassion on the one hand, and the appalling character of a cardinal who sides with Satan and whom Dostoyevsky mockingly calls "the Chief Inspector" in his Brothers Karamazov. (Seton Hall University 2001)

The Grand Inquisitor

“In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us:
Make us your slaves, but feed us.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor

The Grand Inquisitor is a parable told by Ivan to his brother Alyosha in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov (1879–1880). The Grand Inquisitor is an important part of the novel and one of the best-known passages in modern literature because of its ideas about human nature and freedom, and because of its fundamental ambiguity.
In the tale, Christ comes back to earth in Seville at the time of the Inquisition. He performs a number of miracles (echoing miracles from the Gospels). The people recognize him and adore him, but he is arrested by Inquisition leaders and sentenced to be burnt to death the next day. The Grand Inquisitor visits him in his cell to tell him that the Church no longer needs him. The main portion of the text is devoted to the Inquisitor explaining to Jesus why his return would interfere with the mission of the Church.

The Inquisitor frames his denunciation of Jesus around the three questions Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world.
The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but the Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. ...
The Inquisitor says that under him, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance. Though he leads them only to "death and destruction," they will be happy along the way. ...

The segment ends when Christ, who has been silent throughout, kisses the Inquisitor on his "bloodless, aged lips" instead of answering him. On this, the Inquisitor releases Christ but tells him never to return. (Wikipedia info)

Al-Qaeda's Syrian wing takes over the oilfields
By Richard Spencer, The Telegraph, 18 May 2013

Up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil were previously produced by wells around the city of Raqqa and in the desert region to its east that are now in rebel hands - in particular Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda off-shoot which is the strongest faction in this part of the country.
Now the violently anti-Western jihadist group, which has been steadily extending its control in the region, is selling the crude oil to local entrepreneurs, who use home-made refineries to produce low-grade petrol and other fuels for Syrians facing acute shortages.
In the battle for the future of the rebel cause, the oil-fields may begin to play an increasingly strategic role. All are in the three provinces closest to Iraq - Hasakeh, Deir al-Zour, and Raqqa, while the Iraqi border regions are the homeland of the Islamic State of Iraq, as al-Qaeda's branch in the country calls itself.

The Jabhat Al Nusra, a proscribed islamic militant group control the oil fields and cannot export due to sanctions, so this provides some cash flow to the rebel cause as well as much needed fuel for Northern Syria. It is not clear how much money is being channelled back to the group. But all those buying the raw product were aware that Jabhat was profiting.
"Jabhat do not ask for taxes or charges for this trade," said one of them, Omar Mahmoud, from Raqqa province. "But we are buying the oil from them so they do not need to." ...
Their product might not meet the quality, and certainly the health and safety standards, demanded by Shell or ExxonMobil, but it provides a living to thousands of blackened figures willing to risk the business's inherent dangers. ...

It is a Mad Max scene, indicative of the chaos the war has unleashed in Syria, creating a landscape ideal for the methods of dominance al-Qaeda learned in post-war Iraq.
General Selim Idriss, the head of the western-backed opposition Military Council, has appealed for Western help specifically to seize the fields from Jabhat, but the forces required - he put it at 30,000 men - make that a pipe dream. ...
In Raqqa, Jabhat also controls flour production, earning money from selling to bakeries, some of which they own as well. "Jabhat now own everything here," one disillusioned secular activist said.


President al-Assad: "We shouldn't be wasting time
with empty rhetoric, what is more important is reality."
Syrian Arab News Agency, May 19, 2013

DAMASCUS, (SANA) – In an interview with Argentina's Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency president Bashar al-Assad affirmed that the basis for any political solution for the crisis in Syria is what the Syrian people want, which is decided through ballots, saying that Syria welcomes the Russian-US rapprochement, voicing Syria's support for any suggestion which halts violence and leads to a political solution and its readiness to hold dialogue with any Syrian side which didn't deal with Israel secretly or publically and which rejects terrorism.

- Q: What is the total number of fallen victims in the crisis so far? Some sources report that the numbers exceed 70.000 people.

The death of any Syrian is a tragic loss, regardless of the numbers; but one has to examine the credibility of these sources. We cannot ignore the fact that many of those that have died were foreigners who came to Syria to kill Syrians. There are also many missing who have been accounted for as dead without real authenticity. This affects the accuracy of the quoted numbers of the death toll. How many are Syrians? How many are foreigners? How many are missing? At present, there is no precise comprehensive number to quote. These numbers are constantly changing. Terrorists kill people and often put them in mass graves. We can only discover and account for those losses after the Syrian army goes into these areas.

- Q: On this note, has excessive force been used by the government throughout the conflict?

Here it is imperative to determine the meaning of “excessive force” in order to determine whether it has been used or not. Without a clear criterion to this notion, it is inconceivable to discuss the concept. The response of the state generally amounts to the level of terrorism perpetrated against it. With more sophisticated levels of terrorism, our response to those threats intensifies.
At the beginning of the crisis, acts of terror were carried out by local groups using local armaments. With time, these armed groups were able to source more sophisticated and destructive weaponry and fighters, which allowed them to carry out terrorist acts on a much wider scale. This warranted a similar response from the Syrian army and security forces. The response in each scenario differs according to the form or methods of terror adopted by the terrorists and in a way to repel an area from terrorist insurgents whilst protecting civilian lives.
Therefore, the factors that determine our level of force relate to the types of weapons and terrorism techniques we are dealing with as well as our ultimate goal of protecting the lives of civilians and the country as a whole.

- Q: At the start of the crisis, there were some foreigner fighters. It has been two years into the crisis now; do you believe that dialogue could have prevented foreign intervention and the evolvement of the crisis into its current shape?

It was seemingly apparent at the beginning that demands were for reforms. It was utilized to appear as if the crisis was a matter of political reform. Indeed, we pursued a policy of wide scale reforms from changing the constitution to many of the legislations and laws, including lifting the state of emergency law, and embarking on a national dialogue with all political opposition groups. It was striking that with every step we took in the reform process, the level of terrorism escalated.
This ultimately begs the question: what is the relationship between demanding reforms and adopting terrorism? Terrorism can never be the instrument to achieve reforms. What interest does an internationally listed terrorist from Chechnya or Afghanistan have with the internal political reform process in Syria? How is the legitimate demand for reform linked with terrorist activities adopted by radicalized foreign fighters? The same context applies to those external fighters from Iraq, Lebanon and others. Recent credible reports show that there are approximately 29 nationalities of foreign fighters engaged in terrorism activities within Syria’s borders.

We were staunchly committed to political reforms and have implemented them, and we have presented a broad political initiative based on a national dialogue. The essence of any political solution is the aspirations of the Syrian people, decided by the ballot boxes. States do not negotiate with terrorists. However dialogue with the political opposition has been a fundamental policy of ours, which we remain deeply committed to.
Terrorism struck in countries from the United States to Europe. Have these states ever negotiated with terrorists? Dialogue is with legitimate political entities and a conventional opposition, not with terrorist groups who maintain a code of killing, beheading and administering violence including the use of poisonous gas, which amounts to chemical weapons. ...

- Q: What role is Israel playing in the Syrian crisis, especially after the Israeli air strikes on sites inside Syria?

Israel directly supports the terrorist movements in two ways. Firstly, through logistical means manifested by them publicly providing medical aid and hospital facilities to the injured terrorist fighters in the Golan Heights. Secondly, they provide them with directions and navigational support, regarding how to mount their attacks and which sites to target. For instance they attacked Radar sites, which are strictly related to the air defense systems that would detect and intercept any foreign air force activity. They have mobilized them to attack these air defense systems since they are an important deterrent in any military confrontation between Syria and Israel.

- Q: You condemn the presence of foreign fighters in Syria. Some would argue that fighters from Hezbollah and Iran are fighting alongside the Syrian army. What do you say on that?

This narrative was crafted in the West when we documented the presence of foreign jihadists fighting in Syria. They created this notion that Hezbollah and Iran are also fighting in Syria as a counterweight.
Syria can rely on a population of 23 million; it does not require manpower sustenance from any country. We have at our disposal an army, security forces and the Syrian people to defend our country. ...
Regarding the claims that there are fighters from these entities in Syria, this would be a matter that is practically impossible to hide. First and foremost, the Syrian people would have identified them. So where could they possibly be? If there is ever a need or a requirement, we will be transparent and announce it formally. ...

- Q: Mr President, you continue to reject stepping down?

As I previously specified, remaining or leaving my position is not my individual choice. As President, I was elected by the Syrian people and therefore only the Syrian people have the authority to decide on this matter, through dialogue or the forthcoming presidential elections as I mentioned earlier. But to ascertain that the Syrian President must step down because the United States wants him to or because terrorists and certain countries desire so is totally unacceptable. .

- Q: In addition to the early pre-condition of you stepping down particularly by France and Britain, they have accused your government of using chemical weapons.

The statements made on Syria by Western countries, whether it is regarding chemical weapons or the President stepping down, vary on almost a daily basis. One day they infer that they have evidence on the use of chemical weapons and the following day they conclude that there is no such evidence, the subsequent day they say there is evidence again. ... We shouldn't be wasting time with empty rhetoric, what is more important is reality.

- Q: You now say that the situation in Syria is under control, however we hear many echoes of guns and mortars, how has the crisis developed militarily in recent days especially after the armed groups have closed in on Damascus?

There are areas where terrorists are able to maneuver more easily, especially since it is only normal that no army in the world can be present in every corner of any given country. Our military activities are aimed at striking terrorism, not on freeing land. We have achieved significant results in recent weeks and as such a large portion of terrorists have left Syria, whilst others have surrendered to the state. We are not looking to control a particular region or another. We are fighting a war against terrorism, the battle is long and we are making good progress.

- Q: Mr President, to what extent do you think that Obama’s foreign policy is considerably different to previous American leaders?

The United States is broadly governed by certain institutions and particular lobbies. Any new leader can contribute and leave their mark, however, they cannot draw their own autonomous policies independently from those existing institutions and lobbies....
Most importantly to us in Syria, is that foreign policy in the United States is still profoundly biased towards Israel against the legitimate rights of the Arab people, particularly Palestinians.
In the last 20 years, the United States has not taken any serious or genuine steps to push for a peace process. They invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and are still adopting the same policies. ... So what has changed? The rhetoric? That has no real value, what is important is action on the ground. ...

UN Envoy Urges Iraqi Leaders to Take Action to Stop Bloodshed
UN Assistance Mission Iraq, 17-5-2013

Baghdad, 17 May 2013 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Martin Kobler, urged all Iraqi leaders to do everything possible to protect Iraqi civilians as another wave of bombings hit the country during the past few days, claiming more innocent lives.
“It is the responsibility of all leaders to stop the bloodshed in this country and to protect their citizens,” said Mr. Kobler. “Small children are burned alive in cars. Worshippers are cut down outside their own mosques. This is beyond unacceptable. It is the politicians’ responsibility to act immediately and to engage in dialogue to resolve the political impasse and put an end to this.”
“Peace must come to this country now. The people of Iraq have suffered enough,” added Mr. Kobler. “We will continue to remind the leaders of Iraq that the country will slide backwards into a dangerous unknown if they do not take action.”

Reports of the Secretary-General
UNAMI 12 March 2013

While all members of the national partnership Government continued to stress their goodwill and commitment towards building a peaceful and non-sectarian future for Iraq, political tensions and security incidents intensified during the reporting period.

Summary of key political developments pertaining to Iraq:
- In late November, relations between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government deteriorated over the issue of security coordination in the disputed territories...
- On 16 January, the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Patriotic Union in Kirkuk were hit in a suicide attack. ... Kurdistan opposition parties have increasingly alleged that the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan are monopolizing power in the region.
- On 20 December, several members of the security detail of Iraqiya Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism charges. In response, protests broke out on 23 December in Anbar Province... By 4 January, demonstrations spread to Anbar, Salah ad-Din, Ninewa and Diyala Provinces and in northern Baghdad, while several counterdemonstrations were held in the capital and southern governorates...
Those events have increased concern across the political spectrum about the risk of the radicalization of politics along sectarian lines.
- On 15 January, one of the founding members of the Sahwa Council in Iraq and parliamentarian, Ifan al-Issawi, was killed in a suicide bombing in Fallujah. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack. On 25 January, four people were killed and several injured in Fallujah in clashes between security forces and demonstrators.
- On 15 February, the Justice and Accountability Commission dismissed Medhat al-Mahmoud as the head of the Federal Supreme Court for his alleged Baathist connections, prompting disputes between the executive and legislative branches over their respective competencies in relation to the appointment of members of different independent bodies.


Industry Minister: Damages to Industrial Public Sector
Establishments Estimated at SYP 60 Billion
Syrian Arab News Agency, May 19, 2013

DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Industry Minister Dr. Adnan al-Sukhni on Sunday discussed with the committee tasked with specifying priorities and policies to revitalize the industrial sector after the crisis the preliminary results of the committee's evaluation for the current status of industry in Syria.
Al-Sukhni reviewed the repercussions of the aggression waged on Syria, noting that this aggression targeted industrial facilities and cities directly, with 35,000 industrial facilities being robbed in Aleppo alone, noting that preliminary estimates show that damages to the industrial facilities of the public sector due to economic sanctions and terrorism are around SYP 60 billion.
The Minister stressed the need to plan for after the crisis in terms of dealing with the repercussions of the crisis and the old problems that held back the industrial sector in the past.

The committee specified urgent steps for revitalizing the industry during the crisis, which include guaranteeing transportation, fuel, funding and credits and redistributing industries in the country.
Regarding policies for after the crisis, the committee called for establishing an industrial development council and a fund for rehabilitating the industry, in addition to adopting partnerships in industrial reconstruction, reforming infrastructure and utilities, and providing tax and fee exemptions for planned projects.


Iraqi tribal leaders demand federation
Aljazeera, 20 May 2013

Tribal leaders in Iraq are warning of war unless the country splits into a federation amid a deadly new wave of apparently sectarian violence.
Monday's attacks across Iraqi cities left at least 77 people dead and more than 248 others injured, officials say, pushing the death toll over the past week to well above 200.
On the same day, the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Sunni protest leaders had called for "armed confrontation or the declaration of an [autonomous] region".
In response, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said he was willing to contemplate the establishment of an autonomous region in the Sunni-dominated western provinces, provided it came about through the correct legal procedures, according to the independent Al Sumaria television.
Maliki also said he would overhaul Iraq's security strategy. "We are about to make changes in the high and middle positions of those responsible for security, and the security strategy," he said at a news conference in Baghdad on Monday.
"We will discuss this matter in the cabinet session tomorrow [Tuesday] to take decisions," he said, without providing further details. "I assure the Iraqi people that they [attackers] will not be able to return us to the sectarian conflict" that killed tens of thousands of people in Iraq in past years.


Iraq in need for 'third parties enjoying sufficient credibility'
By: Harith Hasan for Al-Monitor, 22-5-2013

This month proved to be the deadliest in Iraq since US troops pulled out of the country. Nearly 300 people have been killed in the past week, while more than 70 were slain by several car bombs last week. The killing machine claimed lives of civilians from the Shiite and Sunni communities in what seems to be an exchange of messages by militant groups. A similar polarization divides the political class whose members exchanged blame and accusations while the sounds of deadly explosions are heard in the background.

While most Iraqi politicians [..] admit that the escalating security problem is related to political problems, it seems that no one has a vision about how to solve them. In fact, one should be surprised at how limited is the role played by the public institutions that were formed to peacefully manage political conflicts. While the ethno-sectarian polarization is converging with personal disputes and institutional confrontation, the political class does not seem to be equipped with the necessary state-craft to address the current crisis.
The tendency to use violence is increasing especially as public institutions fail to address urgent social and political demands, and to secure broad legitimacy. Politicians are cynically willing to exploit such violence in order to obtain additional gains, even rhetorical ones.

Any political solution will require concessions and a sort of creativity that Iraqi politicians lack. ... The political elite failed to reach a constitutional formula that addresses the disagreements concerning the distribution of powers and resources, federalism and center-regions relations, along the dominant feeling of alienation among Sunnis and the relationship between legislative-executive bodies within this anomalous parliamentary system. The common wisdom in Baghdad is that one has to wait for the next general election in 2014 and bet on a new elite deal afterward. ...
With the lack of a solution for issues raised by the protests in the Sunni areas and the increasing radicalization of some Sunni and Shiite groups, the escalation of violence could potentially jeopardize the very electoral process. Even before the election, Iraq needs a road map that can only be promoted through third parties enjoying sufficient credibility — which no Iraqi groups possess.


Saddam Hussein in the Jordanian Parliament
Shafaaq News, 23 May 2013

Anger has pervaded in Jordanian parliament after discussing the fight incident between the staff at the Iraqi Embassy in Amman and supporters of the former Iraqi regime.
A video clip spread in social networking sites showing officials at the Iraqi Embassy in Amman attacking a number of Jordanians supporters of Saddam Hussein, in the presence of the Iraqi Ambassador, Jawad Abbassi. The video showed a group of Jordanians in the Royal Cultural Center in Amman chanting “we sacrifice ourselves for Saddam” as officials clashed with them by beating and kicking severely.

The evening parliament session witnessed a chaos when the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Nasser Fouda, talked about the Iraqi government apology, as a number of MPs raised a picture of former Iraqi President , Saddam Hussein, while MP Khalid al-Hiyari threatened to burn the Iraqi embassy if the government did not take a stand against the attack on the Jordanian citizens . A number of MPs stood and read Surah al-Fatiha on the spirit of Saddam Hussein.

Surah al-Fatiha
In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.

In the Muslim tradition, foremost among God's attributes are mercy and compassion or, in the canonical language of Arabic, Rahman and Rahim. Each of the 114 chapters of the Quran, with one exception, begins with the verse, "In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful,". The Arabic word for compassion is rahmah. As a cultural influence, its roots abound in the Quran. A good Muslim is to commence each day, each prayer and each significant action by invoking God the Merciful and Compassionate, i.e. by reciting Bism-i-llah a-Rahman-i-Rahim. (Wikipedia info)

Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others and helping them to come out from the suffering. The etymology of "compassion" is Latin, meaning "co-suffering." More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering.
Mercy is a broad term that refers to benevolence, forgiveness and kindness in a variety of ethical, religious, social and legal contexts. Performing acts of mercy as a component of religious beliefs is emphasized through actions such as the giving of alms, and care for the sick and Works of Mercy.

Iran's Interior Ministry releases list of approved presidential hopefuls
Press TV, May 22, 2013

Iran’s Interior Ministry has published the list of the hopefuls approved to run as official candidates for president in the country’s eleventh presidential election slated for June 14, Press TV reports. The eight individuals were approved by Iran’s top constitutional supervisory body, the Guardian Council, after a 10-day vetting process.
The candidates are Saeed Jalili, Mohammad Gharazi, Hassan Rohani, Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohammad Reza Aref, Mohsen Rezaei, Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

1 - Jalili, an Iranian principlist candidate, believes in the discourse of the Islamic Revolution as a means to promote national progress.
2 - Independent candidate Gharazi says he is running on a platform of “Administration against Inflation.”
3 - “Moderation, Rationality and Acumen” is the slogan of reformist candidate Rohani.
4 - Principlist candidate Velayati says his election campaign centers on “Moralism and Management Stability.”
5 - Iranian reformist candidate Aref, who is also an academic, says “Livelihood, Dignity and Rationality” is his campaign’s slogan.
6 - Rezaei, an independent candidate, says he is campaigning on a platform of “Political Ethics and Economic Efficiency.”
7 - Haddad-Adel, a principlist candidate, says he will form his cabinet based on “Piety and Good Judgment” if he is elected president.
8 - Principlist candidate Qalibaf, a former military and police commander, says “Better Economy and Life for People” is his battle cry.

The Council has not approved, among others, two-term former President Ali Akbar Heshemi Rafsanjani, former Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The election campaign office of Esfandiyar Rahim-Mashaei, who was not approved by Iran’s Guardian Council to run in the upcoming presidential election, says it will pursue the matter through legal channels.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the campaign office said that it will use “the full legal capacity of the country" to appeal to the Guardian Council to revise and eliminate possible ambiguities in its decision, IRNA reported. The statement also asked that “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the executor of the Constitution, take action to remove probable restrictions in this regard.” (Press TV 22-5-2013)

Iran’s Guardian Council says the Constitution and the election law were the criteria for vetting presidential hopefuls. Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei made the remarks in a televised interview with IRIB... He added that the top electoral supervisory body held several sessions to discuss the capabilities, resumes, and even the past actions and remarks of the presidential hopefuls.
He went on to say that “being Iranian, management capabilities, and faithfulness to the principles of the Islamic Republic” are some of the criteria used for vetting hopefuls who want to run in the presidential election. (Press TV 22-5-2013)

Known for his controversial religious views, Mr Mashaei has been denounced by hardline clerics as part of a "deviant current" that seeks to undermine Iran's Islamic system. Mr Mashaei called the decision to bar him from standing for the presidency unfair and said he would appeal to the Supreme Leader. "God willing this will be resolved," he was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
The Guardian Council's spokesman said on Tuesday evening that there was "no provision in the election law for candidates to appeal". (BBC news 22-5-2013)


Zahra Mostafavi Khomeini:
'the supreme jurist aims to prevent dictatorship.
By: Omid Memarian, Al-Monitor, May 22 - 2013

One day after the Islamic Republic of Iran's Guardian Council disqualified Hashemi Rafsanjani as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, the daughter of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini asked Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a letter to intervene and change the decision, in order to keep "the regime and the revolution" from harm.
In the letter published on the Jamaran site, Zahra Mostafavi Khomeini also stated that she heard her father say that in addition to Ali Khamenei, he had also approved the name of Hashemi Rafsanjani as Iran's next supreme leader.

"On the same day I heard the imam's confirmation of your leadership from his own mouth, and I have consistently repeated that theory whenever necessary. I also heard him confirm the qualification of brother Hashemi, because the imam mentioned his name after your name. Fortunately and deservedly, you received the votes of the Experts; therefore, I did not see it necessary to mention any of this so far," Mostafavi said in her letter, and continued, "But unfortunately, when I see today that the Guardian Council has rejected his qualification for the presidency, I would like to remind you as a sister that this action has no meaning other than creating a rift between the two friends of the imam and a lack of attention to the newfound enthusiasm and reception of the people on the streets about the system and the elections." ...
"Please intervene in this important issue, and do not allow one move to destroy all the efforts, and show why the imam used to say that 'the supreme jurist's position is for preventing arbitrary behavior,' and that 'the supreme jurist aims to prevent dictatorship.' Please help materialize the very philosophy of the supreme jurist again. I am sure that this request is the wish of many individuals who care for the system, people who are concerned about the situation of the Islamic Iran, and whose hearts beat for hearing the echo of unity and solidarity in this country," she wrote.

The remarks from the late ayatollah's daughter about preventing the supreme leader from turning into a dictator point out that from among the eight said candidates, Velayati is a top advisor for the supreme leader, Haddad Adel is his son's father-in-law, Saeed Jalili and Hassan Rohani are his appointees to the Supreme National Security Council, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is his former appointed police chief and the current mayor of Tehran and Mohammad Gharazi is a figure close to him.

Mostafavi is one of Ayatollah Khomeini's three daughters and the general secretary of the Women's Organization of the Islamic Republic. This organization supported the reformist president Mohammad Khatami during his landslide election victory in 1997.
The letter from the daughter of Ayatollah Khomeini is indicative of a very deep rift among the top echelon of power in Iran. It puts Ayatollah Khamenei and other conservatives in a very difficult position, as they take pride in safeguarding the values, words and ideals of Ayatollah Khomeini, and consider themselves the guardians of the revolution.

Rafsanjani, at the time of Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989, said that he had heard Khomeini say that he wished Ali Khamenei to be the future leader of the Islamic Republic. Hashemi's words inside the Council of Experts, the body charged with selecting the supreme leader, became the basis on which Ali Khamenei was elected. For years, many critics have held Hashemi responsible for bringing Ali Khamenei to power and have frequently criticized him for it.


Khatami: "It is no freedom if only the people who agree
with those in power and with their ways and means are free"

"Let me declare my belief clearly. The destiny of the religion's social prestige today and tomorrow will depend on our interpretation of the religion in a manner which would not contradict freedom, whenever in history a religion has faced freedom, it has been the religion which has sustained damage ...
When we speak of freedom we mean the freedom of the opposition. It is no freedom if only the people who agree with those in power and with their ways and means are free." Mohammad Khatami, 2002

Syria's fighters: An interview with Jabhat al-Nusra
"No one committed is too radical"
May 23rd 2013, by Economist.com

The interviewee is a young fighter from Jabhat al-Nusra, an extremist Sunni group in Syria affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq. A former teacher and then tiler, he is dressed in well-ironed black trousers, a white shirt and a black turban. A gun rests on his lap.

- How has Jabhat al-Nusra become so powerful?
The reason is the weakening of the other groups. Jabhat al-Nusra gets the advantage because of our ideology. We are not just rebels; we are doing something we believe in. We are not just fighting against tyranny; Bashar Assad is only part of our fight. The other groups are only a reaction to the regime, whereas we are fighting for a vision.

- What is that vision?
We are fighting to apply what Allah said to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. We are fighting so people don’t look to other people but only to Allah. We don’t believe in complete freedom: it is restricted by Allah’s laws. Allah created us and he knows what is best for us.

-What future do you see for Syria—or do you even see a Syria in the future?
We want the future that Islam commands. Not a country with borders but an umma [worldwide Islamic community of believers] of all the Muslim people. All Muslims should be united.

- What about other Sunnis who are more moderate than you?
We will apply sharia law to them.

- What about Alawites?
Allah knows what will happen to them. There is a difference between the basic kuffar [infidels] and those who converted from Islam. If the latter, we must punish them. Alawites are included. Even Sunnis who want democracy are kuffar as are all Shia. It’s not about who is loyal and who isn’t to the regime; it’s about their religion.

- Did you lose or gain fighters following the announcement that you are linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq?
We’re with anything that represents real Islam, whether al-Qaeda or otherwise. If there is a better group, we’ll go with them instead. The effect of the announcement is that now we know our friends and our enemies. The good people will come to our side and the bad people will leave.

- Many, maybe most, Syrians do not share your views. Do you care?
It would be great if the Syrians were with us but the kuffar are not important. Abraham and Sarah were facing all the infidels, for example, but they were doing the right thing. The number with us doesn’t matter.

- Which other rebel groups do you see as acceptable?
I think only 5% of the battalions are against the Islamic vision. Ahrar al-Sham are a mixture of Islamists and people who like Allah so we are not sure about their vision. We are very clear as the Prophet, peace be upon him, made it very clear to us. Other groups have good beliefs but we are the only committed ones. ...

- Do you consider any Islamists too radical, like the Taliban, for example?
There are people committed to Islam and then those far from it. No one committed is too radical. We haven’t met anyone from the Taliban but they seem good Muslims because they defended their religion and the occupation, they kicked out the enemy and applied sharia.


American unilateralism is passing in favor of a multipolar world
By Juan Cole, Clearing House 23-5-2012

President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation has drawn a line in the sand over Syria, the government of which he is determined to protect from overthrow. Not since the end of the Cold War in 1991 has the Russian Bear asserted itself so forcefully beyond its borders in support of claims on great power status. ...
Even as Damascus pushes back against the rebels militarily, Putin has swung into action on the international and regional stages. The Russian government persuaded U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to support an international conference aimed at a negotiated settlement. Putin upbraided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his country’s air attacks on Damascus. Moscow is sending sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries, anti-submarine missiles and other munitions to beleaguered Assad, and has just announced that 12 Russian warships will patrol the Mediterranean. ...
Regionally, a Moscow-Tehran axis has formed around Syria that is resisting Qatari and Saudi backing for the rebels. The increasing dominance of rebel fighting forces in the north by radical groups such as the al-Nusra Front, which has openly affiliated itself with al-Qaida, has resulted in a falloff of support for the revolution even in Saudi Arabia. ...
The Saudi and Jordanian plan to create a less radical southern opposition front at Deraa has met with a setback, since the regime recaptured that city last week. ...

The thinking of the Russian foreign ministry is clear from its Saturday press release on the revival of the radical Sunni insurgency in Iraq in recent weeks:
“We are particularly concerned about growing sectarian tensions in Iraq, which are turning into a direct armed confrontation between radical elements in the Shi’a and Sunni communities. This is largely due to the crisis situation in neighboring Syria and the spread of terrorist activities of militants operating there.” In other words, Russia sees the Syrian revolution as dominated by al-Qaida-linked groups such as the al-Nusra Front. Moscow views the civil war as a destabilizing event with the potential for radicalizing the Middle East, which it views as its soft underbelly.

The momentum of the Syrian rebels has palpably slowed in the last month... The Russian president is weaving a protective web around his client, fending off the Wahhabi winds of Muslim fundamentalism blowing from the Arabian Peninsula. He has also pushed back against opportunistic Israeli intervention, worried that it might further destabilize Damascus. At the same time, he has impressed on Washington the need for a negotiated settlement...
Putin’s supply of powerful new weapons systems to Assad’s military, and his dispatch of warships from the Russian Pacific fleet through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean, make clear that the full force of Russian military might is, if need be, at the service of its Baath client.
Putin’s gambit may or may not prove successful, but he is indisputably demonstrating that the age of the sole superpower and of American unilateralism is passing in favor of a multipolar world.

Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

Flashback: BRICS key element of emerging multipolar world
Russia Today, 22-3-2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds hopes that the BRICS group of emerging economies will turn into “a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism” and become more involved in global politics.

Vladimir Putin: "BRICS is a key element of the emerging multipolar world. The Group of Five has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the fundamental principles of the international law and contributed to strengthening the United Nations central role.
Our countries do not accept power politics or violation of other countries' sovereignty. We share approaches to the pressing international issues, including the Syrian crisis, the situation around Iran, and Middle East settlement.

BRICS members advocate the creation of a more balanced and just system of global economic relations. The emerging markets are interested in long-term sustainable economic growth worldwide and reforms of the financial and economic architecture to make it more efficient. This is reflected in last year's joint decision to contribute $75 billion to the IMF lending program, thus increasing the participation of the fastest growing economies in the Fund's authorized capital.
Russia, as the initiator of the BRICS format and chair at its first summit in Yekaterinburg in 2009, sees the work within this group among its foreign policy priorities. This year, I have approved the Concept of the Russian Federation's Participation in the BRICS group, which sets forth strategic goals we seek to achieve through interaction with our partners from Brazil, China, India and South Africa.


An Arab Marshall Plan
by: Adeel Malik, Bassem Awadallah, 25-5-2013

The wave of revolts that swept across the Arab world two years ago were fueled by demands for freedom, bread, and social justice. But, although the revolutions toppled dictators and transformed societies, these core objectives remain as distant as ever. In fact, the economic challenges facing the Arab Spring countries have become even more pressing, weighing heavily on these countries' political prospects.
Unemployment has nearly doubled in Tunisia and Egypt, and foreign direct investment has dried up across the Arab world. Tourism revenues, while resilient, are declining, and fiscal challenges remain considerable. But the economic urgency is not reflected in the policy response, which has been painfully slow or non-existent.

Almost all political stakeholders in Egypt, as in the other Arab countries in transition, recognize the need for economic reform. But neither citizens nor policymakers appear willing to bear its social and political costs. In a charged and uncertain political climate, in which new crises erupt on a daily basis, it is unsurprising that economic reform has been postponed repeatedly. ...
The current impasse on economic reform highlights a larger point: Subsidy and tax regimes cannot be reformed without first redefining the underlying social contract, which has long exchanged welfare distribution for political acquiescence. But such a move is far too risky for an individual politician, or even a single country, at a time of economic uncertainty and high unemployment.

In order to create the political space needed for economic reform, Arab leaders must underwrite a regional growth pact -- a Marshall Plan of sorts -- that would facilitate major new investments aimed at reviving economic activity. It is much easier to reform subsidy programs when the economy is expanding.
Moreover, building competitive markets is essential to ensuring sustainable GDP growth. To this end, regional trade barriers, which are more pervasive in the Arab world than even in Sub-Saharan Africa, must be dismantled. By agreeing to the pact, Arab countries would commit to reforming their subsidy systems and to reducing restrictions on cross-border economic exchange. ...

The Arab Spring has exposed fault lines that run not just through individual countries, but also through the entire region. This calls for redefining relationships not only between citizens and states, but also among Arab countries. ...
It is in the interest of the entire region -- including those countries that do not seem to face an imminent threat of revolt -- to contribute to their neighbors' economic revival and facilitate their political transitions. (Tagrib News Agency 2013)

The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria
Fighting for a new Arab world without Iran
Jamal Khashoggi, Al-Arabiya 25-5-2013

The moment of truth in Syria has now approached and the Brotherhood should be ready for it. Many important things have happened and will happen in coming days for the Brotherhood.
Saudi Arabia has finally embraced the MB; it does not matter how and why that happened, but what is important is that it will strongly help both the kingdom and the Brotherhood to reach their goal to overthrow the regime and - this is very important – to be committed to a steady alliance through re-drawing a new Eastern Arab world without Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood vowed this, in the meetings that recently took place in Jeddah.

The Brotherhood in Syria has taken a very clever step when it participated with Syrians in establishing the “national council,” the “coalition,” and then the transitional government. Nevertheless, they were repeatedly accused that they are seeking to control all these bodies and institutions; it was a clever step from them to step away from the transitional government...
They need to maintain their achievements now, and prevent engendering political crises and clashes in Syria, especially when restructuring their organization that was in exile for more than 30 years...
It is no secret that the Brotherhood in Syria does not agree with their comrades in Egypt who stated that they have enough problems and challenges. Saudi Arabia and many other countries have raised concerns about the Brotherhood’s pragmatism.

Mursi’s government stance is no longer convincing; they only want to support the Syrian revolution through speeches and promises, without having to translate it on the ground through a full partnership with an active alliance seeking to overthrow the regime. The Egyptian government wants to leave the door open to Iran...
In Jordan, the Brotherhood is also confused; they are against the regime and with the revolution; they are working hard for the relief of the citizens in need but they kick up dust around the only possible solution: international intervention. They openly criticized training and arming operations led by the Americans who had sent –without prior notice– members of the U.S. military to cooperate with their Jordanian counterparts and intelligence services there.

The Arab and Islamic public wants to topple the Syrian regime at any cost, but they leave the decision in the hands of Islamic movements who grew up being fed confrontational speeches against the West and colonialism... This will push Islamic movements to miss this valuable opportunity in the region...

Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.

Saudi Arabia plays the primary role
Khaled Yacoub Oweis, News Daily 26-5-2013

With Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants now openly fighting alongside government troops in Syria, the Saudi monarchy is keen to play a greater role in backing the Sunni-led opposition...
Qatar has agreed to let Saudi Arabia play the primary role in opposition politics and the kingdom is expected to lead Gulf efforts to back a new provisional government financially, opposition sources said.
But Mustafa al-Sabbagh, the Qatari-backed secretary general of the Syrian National Coalition who has played a main role in channeling money for aid and military supplies inside Syria, is resisting a Saudi-supported plan to add members to the 60-strong coalition, the sources said.

The coalition is controlled by the Sabbagh faction and a bloc largely influenced by the (Syrian) Muslim Brotherhood, which led resistance to the rule of Assad's late father in the 1980s...
Relations between Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood improved after a senior Brotherhood official met Saudi officials in Riyadh earlier this month. "Sabbagh has been told by Qatar that the Saudis are brothers and he should compromise..."
For the last three days, the coalition has been debating a plan to add 25 members of a liberal grouping headed by veteran opposition figure Michel Kilo. Ten other members associated with the rebel Free Syrian Army could be also added. ...
Washington has pressured the coalition to resolve its divisions and to expand to include more liberals ...

Miichel Kilo: Take it or leave it
By Serene Assir (AFP) – Google News 26-5-2013

ISTANBUL — Syria’s main opposition National Coalition has been meeting for three days in Istanbul. Among key items on its agenda was a debate on whether it should hold peace talks with the regime under a US-Russia mooted initiative dubbed Geneva 2.
But a bid by Saudi Arabia to hold sway over the Coalition has overshadowed the debate, dissidents said. “You have Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pushing to include up to 30 new members in the National Coalition,” said one Coalition member on condition of anonymity. ...
Another Coalition member told AFP that Saudi Arabia and the United States have even threatened to cut off support if the opposition refused to admit the new members they were backing.
“We are being threatened that they will not give us any money or even weapons, and even that (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad will stay in power if we don’t allow this expansion. “This is scandalous. This competition for power is killing the Syrian opposition,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Kilo has said that his group wants significant representation in the opposition coalition before it will join. "Kilo is ready to join but his list includes 25 people in a take or leave offer..."

Michel Kilo: The fight against Assad will be followed
by a fight against foreign-backed Islamists
Ryan Mauro 19-12-2012

Michel Kilo is no friend of the Assad regime... He is a long-time and well-known opposition activist. His joy over Assad’s defeat comes with an honest and bleak reality check. The fight against Assad will be followed by a fight against foreign-backed Islamists.
“[A democratic] future that felt certain has now become nothing more than a vague promise — which might not be kept by the Islamist groups known for their lies, lust for power and cooperation with foreign powers,” Kilo urgently writes about “our hijacked revolution.”
"It is very likely that we will be dragged into a deep pit of chaos, violence and civil war, and that serious efforts will be deployed to prevent any evolution toward democracy by stifling the voices of free, secular forces,” he says.


Egypt waits as international players
mull negotiated settlement in Syria
Dina Ezzat, Ahram online 26 May 2013

"There seems to be increased international awareness that a negotiated settlement is the road ahead if we want to see a transition of power in Syria without any further bloodshed," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Nazih Naggary said. "It is obvious that the endgame of any negotiations is to achieve a transition that won't include Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad..."
"We recognise that there are demands by the opposition for further armaments, but we believe that a negotiated settlement is the way forward; and we are getting more and more support," Naggary said.
International deliberations on a negotiated settlement come against a backdrop of attempts by the UK to end an EU-imposed embargo on arms exports to Syria, a step recently described by the UK foreign minister as "a possible [means of] pressure towards a settlement."
A key issue for debate is the possible participation of Iran at the Geneva II meeting. Iran is serious about having a seat at Geneva, according to an Iranian diplomat who insisted that his country’s role "in relation to Syria cannot be overlooked. This is not the position of some key Gulf players, especially Saudi Arabia, or of certain key European players, especially France." ...

According to Naggary, the key matter now is to start the process of a negotiated settlement and then take it in a direction "that would allow for the aspirations of the Syrian people for change, democratic transition and prosperity for all Syrians."
Naggary asserted that a key factor to the success of the process will be to ensure the fair and adequate representation of all Syrians and to preserve the integrity of state institutions to avoid destabilising the Syrian state. "We don't want to see a replay of the Iraqi scenario," Naggary said.

Last August, Egypt had proposed and begun a four-way diplomatic initiative, along with key regional players Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The process, however, has not seen smooth sailing, due largely to political tensions between Tehran and Riyadh.

Presidential Candidate Vows to Strengthen Ties
with World States through Expatriates
Fars News 27-5-2013

"Our motto is that we have to change Iranophobia to the love for Iran
and we are putting this as the main basis for our jobs
so that we could have good relations with other countries in the world."

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former Iranian first vice president Mohammad Reza Aref, who is one of the 8 presidential candidates in the June election, promised to further reinvigorate and expand Tehran's relations with the world countries using the potentials of the Iranian expatriates living in foreign states if he wins the June voting.
"We have four millions of Iranian envoys in foreign countries and the future government should use this potential to strengthen relations with different states," Aref said in a televised program introducing his future agenda.
He further asked for the utilization of all the existing potentials and capacities to consolidate and develop Iran's relations with the outside world, saying, "We should use scientific, cultural and media diplomacy to strengthen our relations with countries."

Mohammad Reza Aref (born 19 December 1951 in Yazd) received a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering from the University of Tehran, and the master's and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and communication engineering from Stanford University in 1975, 1976 and 1980, respectively. His PhD dissertation was on the information theory of networks, supervised by Prof. Thomas M. Cover. He introduced and analyzed deterministic relay networks which is later termed as Aref Networks. Until 1994, Aref was a faculty member of Isfahan University of Technology. Then he served as the chancellor of the University of Tehran (1994-1997).
From 1997 to June 2000, he was the Minister of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone (PTT), a post that was later renamed to Minister of Communications and Information Technology. Then he served as the head of Management and Planning Organization of Iran. From 2001 to 2005, he was the first vice-president of Iran under former President Mohammad Khatami.

Iran Election Videos


Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei
"Exemplary model for oppressed nations"
Islamic Republic New Agency 27-5-2013

'The people's turnout in the elections will bring the country more dignity, immunity and international prestige and will disappoint the enemies.'
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei ('Supreme Leader') said that the reason behind the enemies' propaganda is that the ill-wishers seek to disappoint people and discourage them from mass presence in this epic.
He dismissed the US officials statement about Constitutional process of clearing the candidates to take part in the election and said that they had better focus on their own mistakes such as setting up Guantanamo Bay detention camp, indiscriminate bombardment of defenseless people by drone aircraft in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their warmongering policies in the region as well as their unconditional support for the Zionist criminals.
People should prefer the candidate who brings the country and Islamic revolution more dignity, be able to resolve the country's problems and steadfastly resist to global arrogance and be an exemplary model for oppressed nations...

"Zionism biggest enemies of Islamic society"
Gholam Raza Ansari, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to India.
IRNA 27-5-2013

“Illiteracy and Zionism are the biggest enemies of Islamic society and an effort is underway to destroy the political and economic infrastructure of Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya in the name of democracy while the real objective of the powers behind such changes seems to extend their colonial agenda in Middle East and West Asia”.
Ansari made the remarks on Sunday while addressing the Ali Day, Birth-day of Hazarat Ali (A.S.), function in the Kennedy Auditorium of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Aligarh city of Uttar Pradesh State.


Libya : Law & Legalized Revenge
Jordan Times, May 28, 2013

TRIPOLI — Mohamed Al Megaryef, the president of Libya’s top political body, resigned on Tuesday to comply with a new law banning Qadhafi-era officials from government jobs. Megaryef was Libya’s ambassador to India in the 1980s under the regime of now slain dictator Muammar Qadhafi before he defected to become a leader of the exiled opposition for three decades.
The GNC passed the law on May 5 under pressure from gunmen who had surrounded the foreign and justice ministries for days to press the government to sack Qadhafi-linked officials. Many of the gunmen were former rebels who helped topple Qadhafi and were hailed as heroes for their actions during Libya’s 2011 revolution.
Megaryef criticised those in Libya who use weapons to push their agendas, saying it undermines the government’s efforts to rebuild the country and achieve democracy.
A member of the national assembly said a new president of the General National Congress was due to be elected soon to replace Megaryef. But independent MP Abdullah Al Gamati warned that Megaryef’s departure would create “a vacuum” because “there is no one in the Congress who has the charisma to replace him”.
Several other members of the congress and administration officials are also expected to quit their jobs in compliance with the law. But Tarek Mitri, who heads the UN mission in Libya, warned that his would undermine state institutions and empty them of “experienced” people.
Part of the worry... regarding the consequence of this law is the fact that it will deprive state institutions from some experienced and competent persons, who would be very difficult to replace,” said Mitri.


To speak of revenge in a course on law is to lay bare an open wound at the heart of law. On the one hand, law is built upon the exclusion of vengeance. On the other hand, revenge remains a constant presence in criminal law. In spite of the best efforts of philosophers, moralists, and jurists to banish it, revenge remains an irrepressible social and legal force.
So you have to ask the question: Can revenge be a just motive for criminal punishment? By considering those in the victims' rights movements who argue for the importance and justice of "legalizing" and thus legitimating revenge, we ask whether justice is actually something other than legalized revenge. (www.vernunft.org)

The Legal System – Revenge or Compassion?
Osho: The Last Testament, Vol.5, Talk #22

"As I see it, first the whole legal system is based on social revenge, not on social compassion.

…"Your whole legal system is a revenge system. The society punishes a person because he was disobedient, because he did not follow the crowd, because he was not part of the mob. He tried to be an individual on his own. He was playing his game according to his own rules. Revenge is not going to help, because you are doing the same crime that the criminal has committed. Of course, you have the support of the whole society; so nobody calls your punishment a crime. But any unprejudiced mind can see what you are doing.

"…The whole legal system needs to drop revengefulness. It has to become compassionate; it has to treat human beings with respect.

"Actions don't count. What counts is the whole personality, which is a vast thing.
"An action is a small thing. Don't make it too big. And we are making it too big. Somebody does something wrong – and remember it is human to err; everybody commits mistakes. But the mistakes should not be taken as equivalent to his life. It is only a small fragment in a long series. Don't give it too much importance. Don't make it the focus of light. Don't throw that man into a jail, undignified, dishonored, all his humanity taken away. Don't behave with that man as if he is an animal.

"Society needs to be more compassionate. Law needs to be more compassionate.

"Remember, man is not for law; law is for man. And if law is not helping man, then it has to be changed.
"It has not helped. There is no doubt about it. And I am not saying that "Withdraw all laws, and dissolve all courts." I am saying that your courts and your laws and your legal experts should make the whole phenomenon based on compassion, not on revenge.
"And compassion is the essence of all religions. And if we cannot create our legal system based on the essential, fundamental religious experience of the ages, then future will condemn us; then future will think about us as barbarous, then future is not going to accept us as civilized people, cultured.

Syria's divided opposition: a chaotic meeting
Ma'an News Agency, 30/05/2013

ISTANBUL (AFP) -- A string of top diplomats arrived on Wednesday at a stalled Istanbul meeting of Syria's divided opposition, in what looked like a last-ditch effort to break a deadlock in the National Coalition.
Dissidents say the chaotic meeting has been deadlocked by internal bickering as well as conflicting pressures from key backers of the revolt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, Turkey and the United States.

Despite a week of marathon meetings and heavy criticism from rebels and activists inside Syria, the Coalition has failed to find common ground on key issues, including whether to take part in in a peace conference proposed by the United States and Russia.
Veteran secular Syrian dissident Michel Kilo, a Christian writer and rights activist who was voted into the Coalition and has been at the heart of debate this past week, also arrived at the talks. Saudi Arabia, which backed Kilo's bid to join the Coalition, wants the group to expand in order to water down the influence of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. Opponents supported by regional rival Qatar, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have resisted the Saudis' move.

A week into the chaotic meeting, dissidents have failed to agree on any key issues, chief among them the proposed peace conference that Washington and Moscow are trying to organize in Geneva next month.
"Things are not moving. The opposition has hit its worst crisis yet," said a Coalition member on condition of anonymity, minutes before the international delegation arrived.


Interview Given by President al-Assad to Lebanese Al-Manar TV
Syrian Arab News Agency, May 31, 2013

"Some Arabs have forgotten that the real enemy is still Israel
and have instead created internal, sectarian, regional or national enemies.."

Al-Manar: Today, we are here in the heart of Damascus, enjoying the hospitality of a president who has become a source of consternation to many of his opponents who are still unable to understand the equations that have played havoc with their calculations and prevented his ouster from the Syrian political scene.
This unpleasant and unexpected outcome for his opponents upset their schemes and plots because they didn’t take into account one self-evident question: what happens if the regime doesn’t fall? What if President Assad doesn’t leave the Syrian scene?
Of course, there are no clear answers; and the result is more destruction, killing and bloodshed. Today there is talk of a critical juncture for Syria. The Syrian Army has moved from defense to attack, achieving one success after another. On a parallel level, stagnant diplomatic waters have been shaken by discussions over a Geneva 2 conference becoming a recurrent theme in the statements of all parties.
There are many questions which need answers... What is the Syrian leadership’s plan for a way out of a complex and dangerous crisis whose ramifications have started to spill over into neighboring countries?

Al-Manar: Syria is being criticized for asking for the assistance of foreign fighters, and to be fully candid, it is said that Hezbollah fighters are extending assistance. In a previous interview, you said that there are 23 million Syrians; we do not need help from anyone else. What is Hezbollah doing in Syria?

President Assad: Battles started after Ramadan in 2011 and escalated into 2012, the summer of 2012 to be precise. They started the battle to “liberate Damascus” and set a zero hour for the first time, the second time and a third time; four generals were assassinated, a number of individuals fled Syria, and many people believed that was the time the state would collapse. It didn’t. Nevertheless, during all of these times, Hezbollah never intervened... Al-Qseir is a small town in Homs... They say Al-Qseir is a strategic border town, but all the borders are strategic for the terrorists in order to smuggle in their fighters and weapons...
The battle in Al-Qseir and all the bemoaning is related to Israel. The timing of the battle in Al-Qseir was synchronized with the Israeli airstrike. Their objective is to stifle the resistance. This is the same old campaign taking on a different form. Now what’s important is not al-Qseir as a town, but the borders; they want to stifle the resistance from land and from the sea. ...
So the question is: why is Hezbollah deployed on the borders inside Lebanon or inside Syria? The answer is that our battle is a battle against the Israeli enemy and its proxies inside Syria or inside Lebanon.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, if I might ask about Israel’s involvement in the Syrian crisis through the recent airstrike against Damascus. Israel immediately attached certain messages to this airstrike by saying it doesn’t want escalation or doesn’t intend to interfere in the Syrian crisis. The question is: what does Israel want and what type of interference?

President Assad: This is exactly my point. Everything that is happening at the moment is aimed, first and foremost, at stifling the resistance. Israel’s support of the terrorists was for two purposes. The first is to stifle the resistance; the second is to strike the Syrian air defense systems. It is not interested in anything else. ...

Al-Manar: Mr. President, after the airstrike that targeted Damascus, there was talk about the S300 missiles and that this missile system will tip the balance. Based on this argument, Netanyahu visited Moscow. My direct question is this: are these missiles on their way to Damascus? Is Syria now in possession of these missiles?

President Assad: It is not our policy to talk publically about military issues in terms of what we possess or what we receive. As far as Russia is concerned, the contracts have nothing to do with the crisis. We have negotiated with them on different kinds of weapons for years, and Russia is committed to honoring these contracts. What I want to say is that neither Netanyahu’s visit nor the crisis and the conditions surrounding it have influenced arms imports. All of our agreements with Russia will be implemented...

Al-Manar: Mr. President, [..] there was a simple proposition or a simple solution suggested by the former head of the coalition, Muaz al-Khatib. He said that the president, together with 500 other dignitaries would be allowed to leave the country within 20 days, and the crisis would be over. Why don’t you meet this request and put an end to the crisis?

President Assad: I have always talked about the basic principle: that the Syrian people alone have the right to decide whether the president should remain or leave. So, anybody speaking on this subject should state which part of the Syrian people they represent and who granted them the authority to speak on their behalf.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, this brings us to the negotiations, I am referring to Geneva 2. [..] If this conference is held, there will be a table with the Syrian flag on one side and the flag of the opposition groups on the other. How can you convince the Syrian people after two and a half years of crisis that you will sit face to face at the same negotiating table with these groups?

President Assad: [..] We will attend this conference as the official delegation and legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. But, whom do they represent? When the conference is over, we return to Syria, we return home to our people. But when the conference is over, whom do they return to? Five-star hotels?
Or to the foreign ministries of the states that they represent – which doesn’t include Syria of course - in order to submit their reports? Or do they return to the intelligence services of those countries? ...

Al-Manar: Let’s talk, Mr. President, about the conditions put by the Syrian leadership. What are Syria’s conditions?

President Assad: Simply put, our only condition is that anything agreed upon in any meeting inside or outside the country, including the conference, is subject to the approval of the Syrian people through a popular referendum. This is the only condition. Anything else doesn’t have any value...

Al-Manar: Let’s be clear, Mr. President. There is a lot of ambiguity in Geneva 1 and Geneva 2 about the transitional period and the role of President Bashar al-Assad in that transitional period. Are you prepared to hand over all your authorities to this transitional government? And how do you understand this ambiguous term?

President Assad: This is what I made clear in the initiative I proposed in January this year. They say they want a transitional government in which the president has no role. In Syria we have a presidential system, where the President is head of the republic and the Prime Minister heads the government. They want a government with broad authorities. The Syrian constitution gives the government full authorities. The president is the commander-in-chief of the Army and Armed Forces and the head of the Supreme Judicial Council. All the other institutions report directly to the government. Changing the authorities of the president is subject to changing the constitution; the president cannot just relinquish his authorities, he doesn't have the constitutional right. Changing the constitution requires a popular referendum.

Al-Manar: Frankly, Mr. President, all the international positions taken against you and all your political opponents said that they don’t want a role for al-Assad in Syria’s future. This is what the Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal said and this is what the Turks and the Qataris said, and also the Syrian opposition. Will President Assad be nominated for the forthcoming presidential elections in 2014?

President Assad: What I know is that Saud al-Faisal is a specialist in American affairs, I don’t know if he knows anything about Syrian affairs. If he wants to learn, that’s fine! As to the desires of others, I repeat what I have said earlier: the only desires relevant are those of the Syrian people. [..] If I feel that the Syrian people do not want me to lead them, then naturally I will not put myself forward. They are wasting their time on such talk.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, you mentioned the Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal. This makes me ask about Syria’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, with Qatar, with Turkey, particularly if we take into account that their recent position in the Arab ministerial committee was relatively moderate. They did not directly and publically call for the ouster of President Assad. Do you feel any change or any support on the part of these countries for a political solution to the Syrian crisis? And is Syria prepared to deal once more with the Arab League, taking into account that the Syrian government asked for an apology from the Arab League?

President Assad: Concerning the Arab states, we see brief changes in their rhetoric but not in their actions. The countries that support the terrorists have not changed; they are still supporting terrorism to the same extent. Turkey also has not made any positive steps. As for Qatar, their role is also the same, the role of the funder - the bank funding the terrorists and supporting them through Turkey. So, overall, no change. As for the Arab League, in Syria we have never pinned our hopes on the Arab League....

Al-Manar: Mr. President, this leads us to ask: What are the consequences of the failure of political negotiations?

President Assad: [..] Most of the factions engaged in talking about what is happening in Syria have no influence on the ground; they don’t even have direct relationships with the terrorists. In some instances these terrorists are directly linked with the states that are backing them, in other cases, they are mere gangs paid to carry out terrorist activities. So, the failure of the conference will not significantly change the reality inside Syria, because these states will not stop supporting the terrorists - conference or no conference, and the gangs will not stop their subversive activities. So it has no impact on them. ...

Al-Manar: Mr. President, what would you say to the supporters of the axis of resistance? We are celebrating the anniversary of the victory of the resistance and the liberation of south Lebanon, in an atmosphere of promises of victory... You are saying with great confidence that you will emerge triumphant from this crisis. What would you say to all this audience? Are we about to reach the end of this dark tunnel?

President Assad: I believe that the greatest victory achieved by the Arab resistance movements in the past years and decades is primarily an intellectual victory. This resistance wouldn’t have been able to succeed militarily if they hadn’t been able to succeed and stand fast against a campaign aimed at distorting concepts and principles in this region. ...
Today, more than ever before, we are in need of these ideas, of this mindset, of this steadfastness and of these actions carried out by the resistance fighters.
The events in the Arab world during the past years have distorted concepts to the extent that some Arabs have forgotten that the real enemy is still Israel and have instead created internal, sectarian, regional or national enemies...


The Alexandria Protocol, 1944

Toward the end of World war II, heads of Arab states met in Alexandria to form a unified stance regarding the future of the Middle East and non-intervention of foreign powers. In particular, they were concerned about the further development of Palestine as a homeland for the Jews under the British Mandate. The Alexandria protocol formed the basis for the formation of the Arab League.

Special Resolution Concerning Palestine

The Committee is of the opinion that Palestine constitutes an important part of the Arab World and that the rights of the Arabs in Palestine cannot be touched without prejudice to peace and stability in the Arab World.
The Committee also is of the opinion that the pledges binding the British Government and providing for the cessation of Jewish immigration, the preservation of Arab lands, and the achievement of independence for Palestine are permanent Arab rights whose prompt implementation would constitute a step toward the desired goal and toward the stabilization of peace and security.
The Committee declares its support of the cause of the Arabs of Palestine and its willingness to work for the achievement of their legitimate aims and the safeguarding of their Just rights.
The Committee also declares that it is second to none in regretting the woes which have been inflicted upon the Jews of Europe by European dictatorial states. But the question of these Jews should not be confused with Zionism, for there can be no greater injustice and aggression than solving the problem of the Jews of Europe by another injustice, i.e., by inflicting injustice on the Arabs of Palestine of various religions and denominations.

In faith of which this protocol has been signed at Faruq I University at Alexandria on Saturday, Shawwal 20, 1363 (October 7,1944).

Keyhan Barzega: Iran’s approach with regard to the developments
of the region, including the Syrian crisis, IRD 26-5-2013

Basically, Iran’s approach is based on peaceful solutions to the regional issues and attempting to maintain the stability and security of the Middle East. Iran’s foreign policy with regard to the crisis in Syria can be considered from two aspects.

First of all, Iran demands the non-violent transfer of power in Syria. In fact, the positions taken by other regional rivals like Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the western countries from the outset of the crisis have led Iran to take an active position in Syria.
Iran seeks the strengthening of the system in Syria, for it is concerned about instability and with it the growing of the Sunni-Salafi radical movements in the region.
The spread of radical movements is to Iran’s disadvantage for three reasons. First, it gives an excuse for the presence of foreign forces, including the Americans. Secondly, Sunni radicalism would be transformed into an anti-Shiite and anti-Iran movement, like in Iraq and Afghanistan. Third, radicalism eliminates the chance of peaceful political transfer. Basically, the radicals are ideological and do not support coalition governments (for example, the Taliban in Afghanistan demand absolute power), which means the spread of civil war in Syria.

The second aspect is that Iran pursues the strengthening of regional solutions. On this basis, regional issues ought to be solved by the countries of the region.
If the regional approach is strengthened, the countries of the region will be encouraged to cooperate in terms of the impacts of policy-making decisions. Then international institutions will also support this issue.
If, on the contrary, the role of the regional players is weakened, the countries of the region will stand against each other in their policy-makings, because in the competition of the balance of power, they intend to contain each other's roles, like Iran and Turkey's current status in the Syrian crisis.

It is hoped that in the Geneva-2 conference, the stress would be placed on the regional approach. Nevertheless, besides all the existing challenges, the crisis in Syria can be an opportunity to strengthen regional and extra-regional cooperation.

Dr. Keyhan Barzegar is director of Azad University’s political science and international relations department.
Islamic Azad University is the No. 1 university in Iran and the No. 3 in top ten largest universities in the world. The university is responsible to manage a private chain of universities located all over the country. The university is excellent in providing doctorate and master degree programs to more than 1.3 million students every year.

"Unfortunately, the foreign relations of the country are not desirable and any government which would come to power in the future must spend a significant part of its efforts to reconstruct these relations.
In the first step, measures should be taken to reduce the misunderstandings and unnecessary tensions in relations with the big powers and also regional powers. The priority of the foreign policy of my government is, first, to provide and maintain national interests through confidence-building measures and détente with the outside world."

Hassan Rohani, a candidate in Iran’s 11th presidential election
www.irdiplomacy.com, 28-5-2013


Qaradawi calls for Jihad in Syria
Al-Arabiya, 2 June 2013

Influential Sunni Muslim cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi called for jihad in Syria as he lashed out at Shiite group Hezbollah for sending its men to fight the mostly-Sunni insurgents in Syria.
“Every Muslim trained to fight and capable of doing that (must) make himself available” to support the Syrian rebels, the cleric said at a rally in Doha late Friday.
“Iran is pushing forward arms and men (to back the Syrian regime), so why do we stand idle?” he said, branding Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which means the party of God in Arabic, as the “party of Satan.”
“The leader of the party of the Satan comes to fight the Sunnis... Now we know what the Iranians want... They want continued massacres to kill Sunnis,” Qaradawi said. “How could 100 million Shiites (worldwide) defeat 1.7 billion (Sunnis)?” he exclaimed, “only because (Sunni) Muslims are weak”.

The cleric blamed himself for previously backing Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah who gained popularity after steadfastly leading his group in the fight against Israel in 2006.
I defended the so-called Nasrallah and his party, the party of tyranny... in front of clerics in Saudi Arabia,” which is wary of neighboring Shiite Iran and its allies. “It seems that the clerics of Saudi Arabia were more mature than me,” Qaradawi said.


Kerry issues Russia with warning over arming Syrian regime
Albawaba News, June 1st, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia not to provide embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with an advanced air defense system that he said could prolong Syria’s civil war.
Kerry, speaking after talks with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, said Russia’s transfer of the S-300 missiles was not “not helpful” and could “endanger” efforts of both Washington and Moscow to get the Syrian government and opposition into peace negotiations.
Kerry also said that Russia sending the sophisticated air defense system to Assad was “totally wrong,” and could put U.S. ally, Israel, at a security risk.
Kerry and Westerwelle spoke a day after Assad claimed his regime received a first shipment of the state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system, which would make foreign intervention in Syria’s war more difficult.

Westerwelle said more diplomatic talks were necessary.


Conference on Syria:prospects still unclear
Voice of Russia, 1-6-2013

This week preparations for a second conference on Syria ran into hurdles. At first, the EU announced the lifting of an embargo on the supply of weapons for the Syrian opposition as of June 1st . Then the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces yet again demanded resignation of President Bashar al-Assad as the main condition for its participation in the talks. Then, Turkish security forces caught a group of militants with two kilos of sarin on the Turkish-Syrian border. Finally, there has been a lot of speculation over reports that Russia has allegedly supplied Syria with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

Sergei Lavrov sounded annoyed as he spoke at a news conference in Moscow on May 30th .
It looks like the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and its foreign sponsors are doing all they can to disrupt the talks. They are resorting to all methods, including manipulating public opinion in the West, to secure a military intervention in Syria. Russia deems such approaches unacceptable. Whatever they say, this coalition is not the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. There are other opposition groups which take things seriously speaking from the position of patriotism, not aggression”.

A number of opposition groups in Syria are now trying to distance themselves from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which they say has lost credibility at home. The Coalition’s ex president Moaz al-Khatib has said in an interview with The Independent that he resigned from his post because the Coalition has become “a puppet in the hands of Saudi Arabia and Qatar”.
As for reports that Russia has supplied Syria with S-300 missiles, they are exaggerated. Opposition forces in Syria are thus trying to find a good pretext for lifting all restrictions on the supply of opposition militants with weapons.

100,000 Egyptian Shias sign anti-Morsi Rebel campaign
Ahram Online, 1 Jun 2013

Bahaa Anwar, spokesman for Egypt's Shia citizenship, says that over 100,000 have signed the Rebel campaign that aims to depose President Morsi in early elections. In a statement released Saturday, Anwar said that exactly 100,253 Egyptian Shia signed the petition — some who live in Egypt and others who live abroad.
The fast-growing Rebel campaign, which officially opened 1 May, has gained around seven million signatures so far, according to organisers. The initiative has been backed by a large number of political parties and high-profile political figures.
The campaign hopes to collect 15 million signatures in support of a vote of no confidence in President Morsi, outnumbering the 13.2 million votes he won in Egypt's first-ever free presidential poll in June 2012. It also calls for early presidential elections.

Anwar said that Egypt's Shias are against "religious rule," in reference to Morsi who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, the group opposition critics believe is the de facto governing body of Egypt. "They are looking forward to a contemporary civic state," he said in his statement. "Theocratic or military rule results only in destruction."

Rebel Campaign
Life in dignity, freedom, social justice and national independence

•We reject you … Because Security has not been recovered so far
•We reject you … Because the deprived one has still no place to fit
•We reject you … Because we are still begging loans from the outside
•We reject you … Because no justice has been brought to the martyrs
•We reject you … Because the economy has collapsed, and depends only on begging
•We reject you … Because Egypt is still following the footsteps of the USA

Since the arrival of Mohamed Mursi to power, the average citizen still has the feeling that nothing has been achieved so far from the revolution goals which were life in dignity, freedom, social justice and national independence. Mursi was a total failure in achieving every single goal, no security has been reestablished and no social security realized, thus and gave clear proof that he is not fit for the governance of such a country as Egypt.
That said, I, the undersigned, hereby declare that I am of sound mind and with my full will, as a member of the Public Assembly of the Egyptian people, the destitution of Dr. Mohamed Morsi Isa Ayat, and call for early presidential elections, and I promise to uphold the goals of the revolution and work to achieve them and propagating the Rebel Campaign for masses so that together we can achieve a society of dignity, justice and freedom.


Erdogan calls protesters extremists
Press TV, 2-6-2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has termed the protesters demonstrating against his government extremists, adding that he is not a dictator as they have called him.
Since Friday, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have held demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Mugla, Antalya, and many other cities and towns. On Sunday, about 10,000 demonstrators, many waving flags, chanting "victory, victory, victory," again gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, demanded that Erdogan resign.
On the same day, some 7,000 people held a demonstration in the capital Ankara that turned violent, with protesters throwing fire bombs and police firing teargas. Several protesters have denounced Erdogan as a dictator and fascist.

"If they call someone who has served the people a 'dictator,' I have nothing to say," Erdogan said in an address on Sunday evening to a group representing migrants from the Balkans. "My only concern has been to serve my country." "I am not the master of the people. Dictatorship does not run in my blood or in my character. I am the servant of the people," Erdogan said in another speech made an hour later.
The Turkish prime minister called the protests "ideological" and organized by an opposition "unable to beat (the government) at the ballot box."

Russia: Qusayr offensive aimed at "counter terrorism"
Al-Akhbar, June 3, 2013

Russia said on Monday it blocked a UN Security Council declaration on the Syrian government offensive to retake of the town of Qusayr over the weekend because it amounted to a demand for a unilateral ceasefire by government forces.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich described what is happening in Qusayr, which has been the scene of intense fighting between rebels and government forces backed by Hezbollah troops for two weeks, as a "counter terrorist operation." ...
Lukashevich said this draft amounted to "a demand for the unilateral ceasefire by the Syrian military and passage out for bandits surrounded in several neighborhoods of the town."
"It can hardly be called timely to propose raising the voice of the international community in a situation when the Syrian army is completing a counter terrorist operation against militants who terrorized the population (of Qusayr) for months without restraint," he said.

Jumblatt phrases al-Nusra’s appeal to channel militants outside al-Qusair.
Breaking News Syria, June 4, 2013

Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper, said that some kind of mediation has been suggested by head of “al-Nedal al-Watani” (National Struggle) front Waleed Jumblatt between “al-Nusra Front”, Hezbollah and the Syrian leadership as well, in order to take out al-Nusra’s injured members from the besieged town of al-Qusair.
Jumblatt delivered an appeal by the militants to Hezbollah to open a safe outlet outside the town, so more than 400 injured militants can be taken out. “Al-Nusra” front militants make up most of the figure stated by Jumblatt in his call.
Well informed sources said that Hezbollah told Jumblatt that the Syrian leadership has the final say in the matter and “we follow what Syria decides”, after that Jumblatt called a “shared partner” between him and Syria repeating the same demand.
Syrian authorities told Jumblatt that “militants in al-Qusair know very well the outlet especially designed for civilians, anyone determined to leave al-Qusair can take it; anything else is rejected”.

Waleed Jumblatt & The "right to deal with the devil"

Jumblatt, is the most prominent leader of Lebanon's Druze community. With the start of crisis in Syria, Jumblatt has been siding with the opposition to help overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"I am with al-Nusra Front against the Syrian regime – the Syrian people have the right to deal with the devil, with the exception of Israel, to confront the regime.” Jumblat, (al-akhbar 6-3-2013)
During a speech he gave in May at a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of Israel's military withdrawal from Lebanon, Nasrallah said the Takfiris are the “most prevailing group in the Syrian opposition,” warning against a defeat against them in the ongoing war in Syria. (naharnet 3-6-2013)

The UN Security Council has blacklisted Syria's al-Nusra Front as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a decision that will subject the group to sanctions including an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze, diplomats said. The US mission to the United Nations said none of the 15 council members objected to adding al-Nusra as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq on Thursday.
Al-Nusra, one of the most effective forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad, last month pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. Experts have long said al-Nusra is receiving support from al-Qaeda-linked fighters in neighbouring Iraq. (al-jazeera 31/5/2013)


NATO to send expert mission to Libya
Saudi Gazette, June 04, 2013

BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced today the alliance will send an expert mission to Libya at short notice to assess needs as the country faces a flow of insurgents from Mali. Security experts worry that the Al-Qaeda-linked militants — pushed out of Mali after French military intervention — may be trying to establish a safe haven in southern Libya.
The mission "will go as soon as possible and, together with the Libyans, identify the areas in which the Libyans think they need advice and areas where we do believe we can add value," Rasmussen said ahead of the opening session of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
He insisted it will not mean putting boots on the ground in the North African nation. "This is not about deploying troops to Libya. If we are to engage in training activities, such activities could take place outside Libya," he said. ...

The vast, mostly barren southern two-thirds of Libya has largely gone its own way since the rebellion that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, but now there are concerns that in addition to local tensions, the area might be drawn into larger regional conflicts involving Al-Qaida.
French troops drove Al-Qaida forces out of nearby Mali, and there are concerns that the militants might try to regroup in southern Libya.


McCain Excuses Syrian Rebel War Crimes,
Suggests He’d Tolerate Extremist Takeover Of Syria
By Ben Armbruster, June 04, 2013

"Information Clearing House - Sen. John McCain on Monday (3-6-2013) downplayed atrocities being committed by Syrian rebel forces and suggested that he would be willing to tolerate extremists taking over Syria because they would most likely not be allied with Iran.
McCain has been a forceful advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria and has spent months in television and other media interviews trying to make his case. The Arizona Republican continued that campaign last night during an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, highlighting the war crimes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have committed to justify more U.S. intervention. When Rose noted that rebels are also committing war crimes, McCain brushed them off:
"But you know, Charlie, you see that as isolated incidents of people who have just gotten so battle-hardened and angry and this happens in warfare. What you’re seeing from the other side is orchestrated training and tactics to intimidate and cow the population from the Bashar al-Assad side...."

Rose later challenged the idea of greater U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war, noting that — because many of the forces battling Assad have strong ties to al-Qaeda — there’s a chance that those who take over in the event Assad would fall would be no friend to the United States. But McCain dismissed that concern as well, suggesting — most likely correctly — that any Sunni al-Qeada affiliated group won’t be allied with Shiite dominated Iran:

- MCCAIN: So if Bashar al-Assad wins the connection to Hezbollah remains, Iranians mischief throughout the region continues. [...]
- ROSE: Notwithstanding that Syria might become a failed state and might be ruled by, you know, a group of people who have no interest in good relationships with the United States?
- MCCAIN: But not an ally of Iran, seeking to facilitate their efforts to create mischief throughout the Middle East...


Assad winning the war for Syrians’ hearts and minds
World Tribune, 1-6-2013

LONDON — After two years of civil war, support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad was said to have sharply increased. NATO has been studying data that told of a sharp rise in support for Assad. The data, compiled by Western-sponsored activists and organizations, showed that a majority of Syrians were alarmed by the Al Qaida takeover of the Sunni revolt and preferred to return to Assad, Middle East Newsline reported.

“The people are sick of the war and hate the jihadists more than Assad,” a Western source familiar with the data said. “Assad is winning the war mostly because the people are cooperating with him against the rebels.”
The data, relayed to NATO over the last month, asserted that 70 percent of Syrians support the Assad regime. Another 20 percent were deemed neutral and the remaining 10 percent expressed support for the rebels.
The sources said the data came from a range of activists and independent organizations that were working in Syria, particularly in relief efforts. The data was relayed to NATO as the Western alliance has been divided over whether to intervene in Syria. Britain and France were said to have been preparing to send weapons to the rebels while the United States was focusing on protecting Syria’s southern neighbor Jordan.

The report to NATO said Syrians have undergone a change of heart over the last six months. The change was seen most in the majority Sunni community, which was long thought to have supported the revolt.
“The Sunnis have no love for Assad, but the great majority of the community is withdrawing from the revolt,” the source said. “What is left is the foreign fighters who are sponsored by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They are seen by the Sunnis as far worse than Assad.”


General Command of the Syrian Army
"The homeland's soil is sacred"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jun 05, 2013

DAMASCUS, (SANA) - "Our armed forces succeeded early Wednesday to restore security and stability to the city of al-Qseir and clear it of the terrorists", the General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces said in a statement Wednesday. The statement clarified that the army seized full control of al-Qseir after "a series of accurate successful operations carried out in the city and the villages and towns surrounding it."
"The victory that was achieved at the hands of our brave soldiers sends a clear message to all those who are involved in the aggression against Syria, on top being the Zionist enemy and its agents in the region and tools on the ground," the statement said. "Our armed forces will remain ready to face any aggression against our dear homeland," the General Command stressed. "The homeland's soil is sacred and can't be desecrated, and whoever tries to desecrate it will end up either dead or surrendering."
"While affirming that their battle against terrorism will continue until restoring security and stability to each and every inch of the homeland, our armed forces stress at the same time that they will look with a merciful eye at those mislead gunmen who surrender and drop their weapons, whether those who fled al-Qseir or any area in Syria," it added.
The General Command called upon the residents of al-Qseir to return to their homes and properties within days, stressing that "those whom the gunmen had used as human shields were all evacuated, with the injured being now treated."

The General Command indicated that the documents which have been gained and which prove the involvement of some Arab, regional and foreign parties in terrorism in Syria are now under scrutiny and will be made public at the right time.


Mansour: Arabs unfairly singling out Hezbollah
The Daily Star, Libanon 7-6- 2013

BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said Thursday Lebanon had objected to a recent Arab League statement condemning Hezbollah’s role in neighboring Syria and downplayed the significance of the meeting by the top regional body.
“This meeting did not produce anything of importance except for some points that were tackled, particularly that of condemning foreign intervention with regard to the situation in Syria,” Mansour said upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut.
“It was noticeable that the condemnation [by the League] made mention of Hezbollah ... We objected to this article given that over 40 states are involved in the intervention taking place today in Syria,” he said. ...

Unfair

It is unfair to single out Hezbollah, which has expressed the reality of what is occurring in the Syrian arena and said that it is [in Syria] to defend the Lebanese who were in the towns on the outskirts of Qusair,” he added.
Hezbollah claims it is defending Lebanese Shiite populations in Syrian border villages as well protecting Lebanon from the threat of Islamist fighters.

Mansour was born in Borj El Barajneh on 5 January 1946 into a Shi'ite family. He obtained a bachelor's degree in administrative sciences and policies from St. Joseph University in Beirut. He holds a master's degree in political theory and a PhD in political science.
Mansour has a pro-Syrian stance. In the summit of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers in Cairo held on 6 March 2013, Mansour argued that Syria should rejoin the Arab League. (Wikipedia)

"Syria is a state and a government. The idea that a state could be replaced by a political party is a very dangerous precedent in the world,” he told reporters after the meeting. (Daily Star Lebanon)


Aref: "The administration of reforms
pursues people’s concerns and problems."
Press TV, Iran 7-6-2013

Reformist presidential contender Mohammad Reza Aref has urged the Iranians to vote for the Reformist camp.
The Reformist camp is capable of running the country and solving the country’s economic woes as it has proved in the past, said Aref in stump speech to a gathering in the province of Kermanshah...
“[The administration of] reforms showed that its main concern is the people and their financial problems. [The administration of] reforms showed that it has what it takes to create jobs and control prices. It showed that it can control high prices,” the former vice president said.
“The administration of reforms showed that it is committed to what it has pledged to the people and will remain committed to the very end,” he said. “Once again we should hand over the reins of the country to a Reformist president.”

If elected president, the candidate said, he will use the wealth of experience he has gained while serving the country to bring about progress and development for Iran. ... “I hope that the administration of reforms will once again prove that it pursues people’s concerns and problems,” the candidate said.

Benghazi Libya Shield Protests: at least 27 dead
Libya Herald 9-6-2013

Libya-Tripoli/Benghazi: The death toll in fighting outside a military headquarters in Benghazi has left at least 27 people dead and 70 injured. According to Benghazi Congressman Ahmed Langhi, the death toll is 30. Other reports put the figure at 35.
The fighting started when as many as 200 protestors gathered outside the headquarters of the First Brigade of the Libya Shield forces (Deraa 1) in Budazirah district in eastern Benghazi, demanding it vacate the premises and disband. The Shield forces operate under the army but are seen as largely independent.
It is not yet known who organised the protest although it is claimed that some of the protestors were federalists, others simply wanting an end to any military organisations other than the regular army and the police.
Libya Shield 1 is directly under the control of Chief of Staff Major-General Yousef Mangoush. It is has a reputation of being pro-Islamist, unlike Shield 2 which is considered more sympathetic to the federalists.

"Only two security organisations: the army and the police."
Libya Herald, 9-6-2013

Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, has described the killings in Benghazi a tragedy for the whole country:
“What happenedi is a tragic loss not just to Benghazt but to the whole country and I ask everyone to have patience and restraint in a bid to end the bloodshed. Fighting has to stop; it only results in loss,” he said in a statement today about the killings which occurred when protestors demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Libya Shield No. 1 battalion. They were demanding the battalion be disbanded and that there be only two security organisations in the country: the army and the police.
In his statement, the Prime Minister stressed that Congress, the government and all the Libyan authorities understood the demand that security be under control of army and police.

The Libyan Army 1951-2011

The Libyan Army was the branch of the Armed Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the Libyan Arab Republic and the Libyan Kingdom responsible for ground warfare. The army was decimated in the Libyan civil war and ceased to function as the army of Libya in 2011. It is currently being re-established by the Libyan government, as Libya's previous national army was disbanded.
The Libyan Army only numbered "a few thousand" trained soldiers in November 2011, and was rapidly trying to train up new fighters who could keep the peace nationwide and deter rogue militias from acting without NTC orders.

Rohani: "Paramount importance to civil rights"
"The era of extremists is over" - Press TV, 11-6-2013

Addressing a crowd of his supports in the northwestern city of Orumiyeh, Reformist presidential candidate Hassan Rohani stressed the significance of the upcoming presidential poll, saying the election will turn a new page in the Iranian history.
“We will decide the country’s fate on June 14. The era of extremists is over. We will replace moderation. We will initiate reforms, friendship, peace and fraternity,” he said.
"...We should restore stability and tranquility to the country. There will not be 3.5 million jobless people when the next administration takes office. Under the next administration, there will not be 867,000 unemployed university graduates,” Rohani added. ...
Rohani vowed to attach paramount importance to civil rights.
I will formulate and implement civil rights [charter]. Under civil rights [charter], there would be no minority and majority; and Kurds, Azeris, Turkmens, Balouches, Lors, Arabs and the other ethnic groups will be equal. We will be able to develop the country only through unity and elimination of discrimination.” ....
The former chief nuclear negotiator also said he will improve Iran’s diplomatic relations with the world.
“In the next administration, we will not be in an atmosphere of confrontation and pretention with the world. We will not bow down to other countries, but our policy will be based on constructive interaction with the world,” Rohani pointed out.

Khatami, reformists back Rohani in Iran presidential vote
By Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters, Jun 11, 2013

Iranian reformists led by former President Mohammad Khatami have endorsed Hassan Rohani, the lone moderate contesting Friday's election for the presidency, held by hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the past eight years. ...
Khatami, who won two presidential election landslides in 1997 and 2001, threw his weight behind Rohani on Tuesday after Mohammad Reza Aref, the sole reformist candidate approved by Iran's Guardian Council, withdrew...
The reformists' backing of Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his conciliatory approach, is an effort to attract the votes of those Iranians hoping for greater freedoms and an end to their country's diplomatic isolation. ...


Sectarianism and the Irrational New Discourse
By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 11-6-2013

"...no boundary separates us
and no religion differentiates us
we had a civilisation in the past
we will bring it to life even if it was buried..."

While Arab nationalist movements eventually fragmented, were weakened or defeated, an Arab identity survived. Long after Nasser died, and even Anwar Saddat signed the Camp David accords, thus breaking with Arab consensus, school children continued to sing “Arab homelands are my home, from the Levant to Baghdad, from Najd to Yemen and from Egypt to Morocco.”

The war over Arab identity however never ceased, as it continued to manifest itself in actual and figurative ways. Israel and western powers, vying for military dominance, regional influence and ultimately resources, did the best they could to shatter the few semblances that sustained a sense of unity among Arab nations that survived despite numerous and perhaps insurmountable odds. ...

Intellectual extremism
that justifies the butchering of people

Despite my insistence on optimism, I find the current political discourse hateful, polarizing and unprecedentedly defeatist. While Muslim political elites are sharply divided between Shia and Sunni, assigning layers of meaning to the fact that one is born this way or that, this wrangling has been weaved into a power play that has destroyed Syria, awakened past animosities in Lebanon and revitalised existing conflict in Iraq, further devastating the very Arab identity.
Iraq’s historical dilemma, exploited by the US for immediate gains, has now become a pan-Arab dilemma. Arab and Middle Eastern media is fomenting that conflict using terminology loaded with sectarianism and obsessed with erecting the kind of divides that will bring nothing but mistrust, misery and war.
Resurrecting Nasser’s and Afflatus’s Arab nationalism might no longer be possible, but there is a compelling need for an alternative discourse to the type of intellectual extremism that justifies with disturbing lucidity the butchering of [people], because of their sect or religion.


Yesh Atid MK: "The occupation corrupts Israeli society"
Attila Somfalvi, YetNews 12-6-2013

Knesset Member Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid ) slammed the Israeli policy in the territories and asserted Israel is on its way to become South Africa. Shelah said the West Bank settlements pose an obstacle to a peace agreement. "The occupation corrupts Israeli society, the IDF, Israeli justice, Israeli media, Israeli psyche and Israeli mode of speech," he claimed. "Thinking the world will get used to this situation is similar to what white people used to say in South Africa."
"Israel should honestly say that despite its leaders' intentions to reach an agreement, the disparity between the sides, especially regarding the issues of right of return, Jerusalem and borders don't really allow an agreement to be achieved," the deputy transport minister said. ...
"... We've reached a stage where in a United Nations vote against the Palestinians only nine countries voted for us. The world has informed us that our being an occupying country is no longer tolerated." ...
"[The occupation] hurts the IDF on the operational level as well. The IDF of the Second Lebanon War is a product of this situation, a product of operational corruption. When the military sits in a Palestinian family's living room for years, it becomes a less able force."

Yesh Atid ("There is a future") is a centrist, secular-liberal political party founded by former journalist Yair Lapid in January 2012. Lapid said he was forming the party to "truly represent the center of Israeli society," i.e. – the secular middle class. Lapid formed the party with the intention of promoting the equal distribution of the social burden in Israel.

Bill Clinton: "a patsy for the hawks"
Posted on 06/14/2013 by Juan Cole

Former president Bill Clinton criticized President Obama for his inaction in regard to Syria. This step seems extraordinary and surely has something to do with positioning Hillary Clinton to run as a more hawkish New Democrat...
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton appears to have pushed for arming the Syrian rebels, but could not get Obama’s backing for the move.

Bill Clinton’s criticism is extremely unfair, since there are many bad situations in the world in which the US cannot fruitfully intervene, and Clinton knows this sad truth all too well.
In 1992-2002 Algeria’s secular generals, tied to France and fueled by petroleum, fought a bloody dirty war against the Islamic Salvation Front and other devotees of political Islam. The world watched in horror as an estimated 150,000 people died. And yet, Clinton never directly intervened. Behind the scenes France backed the generals, and the latter won... Nobody remembers Clinton’s paralysis in Algeria, contrary to what he is now predicting about Obama and Syria. This is because if you avoid a quagmire as president, no one holds that against you.

[In Syria] the Baath and Hizbullah counter-attacks against the opposition in the past two months have yielded battlefield victories and the reassertion of Damascus over parts of the country that had been lost. Russian support appears to have increased in kind and quality, and Iran is playing the Shiite card.
If someone doesn’t intervene soon on the rebel side, Washington hawks realize, the war might soon be over and the pro-Iranian regime will survive (just as Algeria’s did).
Obama seems to be attempting to find a face-saving way of getting a little involved but not too much, by sending light weaponry...

Clinton compared what the US could do in Syria to Ronald Reagan’s effort against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But that covert operation of giving billions of dollars and high-tech weaponry to Afghan jihadis was a huge catastrophe, contributing to the creation and rise of al-Qaeda and setting the background for the emergence of the Taliban...
You never, ever want to encourage the rise of private militias and flood a country with high- powered weaponry.

In general Bill Clinton had few foreign policy successes. One of his great failures was yielding to the pressure of the hawks around the Project for a New American Century and bombing Iraq in 1998, in preparation for which he forced the UN weapons inspectors to withdraw. Had they remained on the ground, they could have continued to certify that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. The PNAC warmongers maneuvered Clinton into helping them blind US and world intelligence with regard to Iraq... Bill Clinton was a patsy for the hawks, and now he is setting up Obama to be another one.

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was an American think tank based in Washington, D.C. established in 1997 as a non-profit educational organization founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan.

Calls for regime change in Iraq
Wikipedia info

The goal of regime change in Iraq remained the consistent position of PNAC throughout the 1997-2000 Iraq disarmament crisis.
Richard Perle, who later became a core member of PNAC, was involved in similar activities to those pursued by PNAC after its formal organization. For instance, in 1996 Perle composed a report that proposed regime changes in order to restructure power in the Middle East. The report was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm and called for removing Saddam Hussein from power, as well as other ideas to bring change to the region. The report was delivered to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Two years later, in 1998, Perle and other core members of the PNAC - Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, and John Bolton - "were among the signatories of a letter to President Clinton calling for the removal of Hussein." Clinton did seek regime change in Iraq...

On September 20, 2001 (nine days after the September 11, 2001 attacks), the PNAC sent a letter to President George W. Bush, advocating "a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq", or regime change:
...even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq....
. From 2001 through 2002, the co-founders and other members of the PNAC published articles supporting the United States' invasion of Iraq. On its website, the PNAC promoted its point of view that leaving Saddam Hussein in power would be "surrender to terrorism."


Sharmine Narwani : Iran's Resistance Economy
Al Akhbar-English, june 5/13, 2013

Iran's scientific achievements

Iran has achieved its economic independence the hardest way imaginable – through a devastating eight-year war with Iraq and decades of potentially-debilitating sanctions. It has shrugged off the yoke of imperialism, built infrastructure, social services and industry from scratch, harnessed its own resources toward establishing domestic self-sufficiencies, created a dynamic – if imperfect – indigenous political system of representative government, and managed to maintain the security of its oft-threatened borders through military innovation and soft power. ...
In 2011, Iran ranked 11th globally in agricultural output, just behind Japan, Russia, Turkey, and Australia – and is ranked first and second worldwide in the production of a variety of fruits, vegetables, spices, and nuts ranging from apricots, cucumbers and walnuts to pistachios, saffron, and watermelon.
This is a country hell-bent on achieving self-sufficiency, after all. Under threat of increasingly punitive US-sponsored economic sanctions, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year promised the development of a “Resistance Economy” that will aim to stop all dependence on oil revenues and switch to knowledge-based industries and vital commodities instead....

In 2009 an article in the UK-based Sunday Times told the remarkable story of Iran’s provincial health houses. The post-revolution initiative to rapidly deliver basic medical care to underserved rural areas was able, in a short time, to reduce child mortality rates by 69 percent and maternal mortality in rural areas from 300 per 100,000 births to 30.
So astounding were these results that the US state of Mississippi turned to Iran for advice, assistance and training on how to achieve these results back home. ...
Today Iran has some 20,000 health houses in 65-70,000 villages around the country and has established a primary healthcare "network" connecting health houses to larger health centers in larger towns, which in turn plug into hospitals and specialized medical facilities in urban areas. Although challenges still exist in this system, Iran has solved a vital social service and healthcare challenge that continues to plague most developing nations. ...
Today, there are 120,000 physicians in Iran. The country is self-sufficient in the production of medical experts and support staff, and has diversified into specialties like fertility treatments, heart, cornea, and kidney transplants that Iranians were forced to seek outside the country a few decades ago. Iranian expertise and relatively low-costs now even draw medical tourism from near (Iraq) and far (Canada).

While Iran has the benefit of considerable oil resources to cushion its economy, throughout the 1980s the country was broke. Economically, Iran was in not much better a position than Egypt or Jordan are today, both countries just months away from bankruptcy.
There is a missionary zeal that permeates the higher echelons of government and their immediate ranks below. Many decision makers I interviewed are driven by both religious faith and geopolitics – determined to satisfy public needs and focused on discovering efficiencies that will thwart the negative effects of sanctions. ...

According to results of a Gallup poll in February, 85 percent of Iranians claim sanctions have hurt their livelihood either “a great deal” or “somewhat.” But 70 percent of those polled blame external parties (the US, western European countries, Israel, and the UN) for this suffering; remarkably, only 10 percent blame their government and their leaders. Instead of sanctions forcing a change in Iran’s calculation about pursuing nuclear enrichment – which is a stated US goal – 65 percent of Iranians favor a continuation of the country’s nuclear power capabilities. ..
Instead of changing tack and identifying novel ways to gain favor with Iran’s population while pressuring their leaders, the US administration went off the rails last week and upped the sanctions ante – targeting for the first time Iran’s rial currency and its auto industry, a large source of domestic jobs.
There can no longer be any mistake about what that means. Washington isn’t trying to change Iran’s “calculations” about “its nuclear program.” It is trying to break Iran’s back. ....
“The new realities in Iran don’t seem to be apparent to the US after 33 years. They’re still focused on regime change, sanctions, cyber war, military operations. ...

A 2010 Canadian report on the "geo-political shift in knowledge creation" claims scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the global average – faster than in any other country in the world. ....
This kind of hyper-scientific growth is essential, says Dr. Hamid Gourabi, president of the Royan Institute, a leader in stem cell and reproductive biomedicine in Iran: “Scientific progress can make countries independent– and apply pressure on others.”
If you think his message has political undertones, you are right. It is something I hear in all my meetings. “After the revolution, we decided instead of being dependent on oil, we should diversify into sciences and other areas.” ..

A decade ago, Iranian decision makers and scientists were trying to solve a large problem: “In less than 100 years, we will run out of our oil resources. How do we have an economy then?”
The prevalent thinking was that Iran needed to develop sectors that would help it create a “knowledge-based economy” where it could establish itself as a global leader. The country had underperformed on IT and biotech, so it took its time in studying the potential of nanotechnology. Three years later it decided to plunge in....
In a short time, the Islamic Republic has become one of only six nations involved in nanotech standardization – all others are Western countries (US, UK, Canada, Germany) with the exception of Japan....

A year ago I wrote an article titled “How Iran Changed the World.” In it I warn that continued economic pressures on Iran will produce the unintended consequence of undermining Western hegemony very decisively. The US, after all, is aggressively challenging the Islamic Republic at a time when the entire Western financial and economic order is teetering on the brink of collapse, with no apparent safety net in sight.
Iran is an extremely resourceful country of 78 million people, a huge export market for many nation keen to bolster its treasuries, and has major strategically valuable commodities – oil and gas – that people are keen to buy.

The tighter the sanctions, the more likely that Iran and its trading partners will seek innovative ways around them. In effect, by putting the screws on this important country (Iran is today the head of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement and increasingly protected by the emerging BRICS economies), the US is encouraging the development of alternative financial and economic practices that will fundamentally undermine – perhaps even destroy – its own global order.

Sharmine Narwani is a writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. She has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in both journalism and Mideast studies. She is a columnist at Al-akhbar English.


Rohani becomes Iran’s new president
PressTV, Jun 15, 2013

Hassan Rohani has won Iran's 11th presidential election following a vote that saw a massive popular turnout on June 14. Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar announced on Saturday that of a total of 36,704,156 valid ballots counted, Rohani won 50.70 percent of the ballots with 18,613,329 votes. ...
Nearly 50.5 million Iranians, including more than 1.6 million first-time voters, were eligible to participate in the June 14 elections. The Interior Ministry put voter turnout at 72.7 percent.

The newly-elected Iranian president was born into a religious family on November 13, 1948 in the city of Sorkheh in Semnan Province.
Rohani currently represents Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in the Supreme National Security Council, and is member of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts. He is also President of the Expediency Council's Center for Strategic Research.


"Honoring innovators and creative individuals"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jun 15, 2013

Damascus, (SANA) Upon President Bashar al-Assad's directives, Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halqi granted Dr. Khaled al-Aouf order of dedication of the first degree for inventing a modern scientific method for curing jaw and facial bone deformation.
Dr. al-Halqi underlined President al-Assad's interest in innovation and creativity and honoring innovators and creative people, adding that the government is fighting takfiri terrorists and the enemies of the homeland on one hand and is at the same time honoring creative individuals on the other.

Dr. al-Halqi said that every Syrian citizen all over Syria who is doing his national duty in work, creativity and innovation deserves to be honored, affirming that the government is bent on offering all kinds of financial and moral support to creative citizens.
He added that the government is interested in scientific research and providing all it needs to succeed in order to help in the comprehensive and sustainable development after the crisis ends.


Morsi says Egypt cuts all ties with Damascus,
calls for Syria no-fly zone
Russia Today, June 16, 2013

"We have decided to close down the Syrian embassy in Cairo," said Morsi during a conference of Sunni Muslim clerics in support of the Syrian uprising at Cairo Indoor Stadium, according to local newspaper Ahram online. "The Egyptian envoy in Damascus will also be withdrawn."
Addressing the massive crowd at the stadium, the Egyptian president said "the Egyptian people support the struggle of the Syrian people, materially and morally, and Egypt, its nation, leadership ... and army, will not abandon the Syrian people until it achieves its rights and dignity."
Morsi urged the international powers not to hesitate to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria. His supporters chanted: "From the free revolutionaries of Egypt: We will stamp on you, Bashar!"
The US has been giving consideration to the issue of setting up a no-fly zone across Syria and possibly along Jordan’s border... But Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed that any attempt to establish the no-fly zone would be a violation of international law.

While calling for foreign interference into the Syrian conflict, Morsi has warned against any unrest at home as massive anti-government protests are planned to take place on June 30. "There is no place for the troublemakers [who threat] the nation's security and stability. We shall decisively stop them," he said as quoted by Ahram Online.

Support for the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah would also be withdrawn, Morsi said, marking a policy shift for Cairo, which backed the organization against Israel in the Second Lebanon War seven years ago.
“We supported Hezbollah during Lebanon war and today we stand against Hezbollah in its aggression on Syria,” said Morsi, adding that there will be no role for the current Syrian regime and the terror group in Syria’s future.
He said Cairo would coordinate aiding the rebels monetarily through Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as other countries. He did not say what form the aid would take and whether it would include arms. (Times of Israel 16-6-2013)


Obama Isolated at G8 Summit
Posted on 06/16/2013 by Juan Cole

Obama’s recent decision to become more active in Syria, at least sending light weaponry to the rebels, will have a mixed reception, perhaps an explosively mixed one.
Russia, of course, is strongly backing the ruling Baath regime and has strenuously objected to Obama’s announcement. In essence, the two superpowers are back to a Cold War footing over Syria.
In the recent discussions at the European Union, Italy and Germany opposed lifting an arms embargo on Syria. That is, those two countries did not want Europeans sending arms to either side.
Japan is unlikely to join in sending weapons, given its pacifist constitution, but it is somewhat stepping up its humanitarian aid to the rebels and to Jordan and Lebanon....
So, fierce opposition from Vladimir Putin, and just plain opposition from Angela Merkel and Enrico Letta. Neutrality from Japan. And support for small arms exports to the rebels but little more from France. Likely the UK and Canada will support whatever Obama decides to do.

There is some thinking of expanding the G8 to include, e.g., China and Brazil among others. Note that both of these countries are dead set against Western intervention in Syria.
The US, with its hawkish ways, is increasingly isolated .


"There is no God but Allah, and Bashar is his enemy."
Thousands of Egypt Islamists rally for Syria jihad
Global Post 15-6-2013

"Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah,
and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls
and to sever limbs, is undoubtedly
an honor for the believer."
Sheikh Areifi, 11-3-2011

Thousands of Islamists rallied in the Egyptian capital in support of calls by Sunni Muslim clerics for a holy war against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The demonstration took place outside a Cairo mosque where Saudi preacher Mohammed al-Oreifi called in a sermon for a "jihad in the cause of Allah in Syria." Oreifi urged worshippers to "unite against their enemy."
Demonstrators, most of them bearded and wearing the traditional white galabiya, shouted "there is no God but Allah, and Bashar is his enemy."
People waved not only the Egyptian flag but also the one adopted by the Syrian opposition.
On Thursday, influential Sunni clerics from several Arab states called for a holy war against the "sectarian" regime in Syria. "We must undertake jihad to help our brothers in Syria by sending them money and arms, and providing all aid to save the Syrian people from this sectarian regime," they said in a statement at the end of a gathering in Cairo.
They called the "flagrant aggression" of Iran and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah -- both Shiite -- and their "sectarian allies" in Syria "a declaration of war against Islam and Muslims."
Saudi Arabia's top cleric Abdulaziz al-Shaikh has urged governments to punish the "repulsive sectarian group" while Qatar-based Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has called on Sunnis to join the rebels.