Saddam's Death, Page 22
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 21: december 2012 - januari 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)

Adieu BlairSeven is explodingww.rense.comJustin Raimondo
Index Page

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"


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. (

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

Assad: ‘My enemy is terrorism and instability in Syria’
Russia Today, 9 November 2012

In an exclusive interview with RT, President Bashar Assad said that the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but proxy terrorism by Syrians and foreign fighters. He also accused the Turkish PM of eyeing Syria with imperial ambitions.
Assad told RT that the West creates scapegoats as enemies – from communism, to Islam, to Saddam Hussein. He accused Western countries of aiming to turn him into their next enemy.
While mainstream media outlets generally report on the crisis as a battle between Assad and Syrian opposition groups, the president claims that his country has been infiltrated by numerous terrorist proxy groups fighting on behalf of other powers.

RT: There are many people who were convinced a year ago that you would not make it this far. Here again you are sitting in a newly renovated presidential palace and recording this interview. Who exactly is your enemy at this point?

BA: My enemy is terrorism and instability in Syria. This is our enemy in Syria. It is not about the people, it is not about persons. The whole issue is not about me staying or leaving. It is about the country being safe or not. So, this is the enemy we have been fighting as Syria. ...

The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave. That is why we have to focus of the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say.

­RT: Why has Turkey, which you call a friendly nation, become a foothold for the opposition?

BA: Not Turkey, but only Erdogan’s government in order to be precise. Erdogan thinks that if Muslim Brotherhood takes over in the region and especially in Syria, he can guarantee his political future, this is one reason. The other reason, he personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella. ...

­RT: Do you think that at this point there is any chance for diplomacy or talks or only the army can get it done?

BA: I always believe in diplomacy and I always believe in dialogue even with those who do not understand or believe in it. But we have to be realistic.
Those people who committed these acts they are of two kinds: one of them does not believe in dialogue, especially the extremists, and you have the outlaws who have been convicted by the court years ago before the crisis and their natural enemy is the government because they are going to be detained if we have a normal situation in Syria.
The other part of them is the people who have been supplied by the outside, and they can only be committed to the governments which paid them the money and supplied them with the armament; they do not have a choice because they do not own their own decision.
And you have the third part of the people whether militants or politicians who can accept the dialogue. That’s why we have been in this dialogue for months now even with militants and many of them gave up their armaments and they went back to their normal life.

Shaykh Moaz al-Khatib
(leader of Syria's opposition coalition)
'A Flower Revolution', 11-12-2012

With the emir of Qatar,  The Guardian 11-11-2012 Our revolution is a peaceful revolution from its beginning to its end and it is the regime alone that bears the moral and legal responsibility; for it is the regime that forced our people to resort to armed resistance to defend themselves, their families, their property and their religion.
In dozens of cities flowers were carried during demonstrations by thousands of young men and women. They carried flowers and cold water to give to members of the security forces to ask for their right, to simply express themselves. This monstrous regime responded with arrests, jail and torture and then proceeded to destroy the physical, social and economic structure of the country after destroying its intellectual and moral fabric for the past fifty years.
We salute the struggle of this great people, men, women and children and we salute their legendary courage in the face of oppression and destruction as we stand with respect in memory of the souls of our martyrs. We also salute with loyalty all of the fighters of the Free Syrian Army who defend the revolution in the face of tyranny....
In the name of all of our absent brothers in Syria, I extend my thanks to the government of Qatar and its people, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E..
I thank our partners in civilization and history, our Turkish brothers as well as our brothers in Libya, Jordan and Egypt.

Islamic State & Sharia Law

Jihad a legitimate motive for Syrian rebels
By Samia Nakhoul and Khaled Yacoub Oweis

MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Mouaz Al-Khatib, the leader of Syria's opposition coalition, urged the United States on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to designate the militant Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group, saying religion was a legitimate motive for Syrian rebels.
"The fact that the military movement is Islamic in its colour is generally positive. Jihad in the path of God has long been a fundamental motivator for human rights."

The Call for Jihad
Nasser Charara, Al-Akhbar 5-1-2013

At the beginning of 2012 70 sheikhs from the Syrian Council of Clerics issued a fatwa, or religious edict, that declared jihad in Syria the duty of all Muslims. The Salafi sheikhs understood that the call for jihad had to be introduced in phases in order for many Syrians to accept it.
They had noticed that the early protests were limited to social and economic demands, and when Islamist activists would raise slogans calling for the downfall of the regime, many participants would quickly leave. But soon this began to change and the Islamists were able to call for the execution of the president without alienating the protesters.

President Assad outlines political solution
Russia Today 6-1-2013

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has outlined a plan to end the country's conflict, starting with a halt to international support to “al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.” The solution proposes a new constitution and government, as well as national reconciliation.
He said that his government had never refused a political solution, but would not negotiate with terrorists. He then stressed that the only solution was a Syrian proposal to end the crisis.

“The political solution entails regional and international powers halting their support for armed groups, which will be followed by a halt in our security forces' crackdown against them,” Assad said in his first public address to the people of Syria since June.
He claimed the move would be followed by dialogue with all parties who work in Syria’s interests, in the form of a national conference on the creation of a truce and the drafting of a new constitution to be put to public vote. The charter would form the basis of the new Syrian government.
The final step would be a national reconciliation process, including amnesty for those imprisoned during the crisis.

He criticized the Syrian opposition, referring to the rebels as “Western puppets” and “terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda.”
"We have terrorists who follow the ideology of al-Qaeda. We brothers fight against these people... We will teach them a lesson," Assad said.

Qatar's Support For The Revolution
Dr Mohamed Gouda, Gulf Times Qatar, 10-1-2013

A number of Egyptian economists have praised Qatar’s support to Egypt, noting to the latest announcement of raising the Qatari deposit in Egypt’s Central Bank to $4bn and $1bn as a grant. Raising the value of the Qatari economic assistance to Egypt represents a great leap in the relations between the two countries in various fields, and contributes to push Egypt’s economy forward to get out of the current crisis...

In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)’s Economic Committee Dr Mohamed Gouda said that they highly appreciate this step in supporting the Egyptian economy during the current phase.
The generous initiative by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani will have a significant impact in supporting the Egyptian economy and in supporting cash reserves, he said, expressing the hope to push forward the bilateral economic co-operation during the next phase.
Dr Gouda noted Qatar’s decision will significantly contribute in pushing the Egyptian economy forward. He also predicted that these investments will raise growth rates in Egypt during the upcoming period and will limit the phenomenon of unemployment, appreciating at the same time Qatar’s position in supporting the Egyptian revolution.

"Support from the brotherly Arab countries"

In a statement, banking expert Dr Mohsen al-Khudairi praised Qatar’s positive step, saying that the current circumstances of the Egyptian economy require support from the brotherly Arab countries to get out of its collapse. He added, raising the value of the Qatari deposit to $4bn is not new from the State of Qatar, noting the great support for the 25 January revolution.

Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Oraifi
delivers speech in Amr Ibn al-Ass Mosque
Egypt Independence, 11 January 2013

Mohammed Al-Oraifi is known of his negative and provocative postures against Shia. Some Shia organizations expressed unwelcoming notes and refusal to see Al-Oraifi in Bahrain after his breach about Shia, when he stigmatized them with abusive expressions. The preacher, who follows Wahabi theology, was banned to enter Kuwait after their Shia citizens protested to his trip and considered his speeches a source of division between sects of Islam. (, 1-5-2010)

Saudi Sheikh banned from Kuwait 21-1-2010

Kuwaiti authorities have banned the controversial Saudi Sheikh Mohammad Al Oraifi from entering the state. He caused outrage recently with comments describing the revered Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq’s and top religious leader, as “an atheist and a depraved man”. The Gulf News reports that Al Oraifi travels every week to Doha via Kuwait to meet friends. ...
It is not much of a surprise that Qatar does not have any problems with Al Oraifi entering: they have something of a reputation for taking a rather laissez-faire attitude to such things.

Sheikh Mohammad Al Oraifi
"I see them as dead bodies..."
YouTube videomessage 5-3-2012

Sistani is a cleric fit for a secularist state
Ali Abel Sadah, for Al-Monitor 11-1-2013

Sistani is a cleric fit for a secularist state, for his actions as a religious authority in these disoriented times are balanced and moderate. He quietly and peacefully defies his colleagues by keeping state and religion separate. It is certain that Sistani prefers separation of religion and state, since his position in this regard has been a critical factor in the struggle for religious authority in Najaf.
Today, with the approach of provincial elections, secularists can be likened to a defeated warrior who needs time to rest and treat his wounds. Meanwhile, better organized and quick to mobilize, the Islamists continue to exert their control over the new Iraq.

Arab Spring & Secular Values
Jasmine Roman, The National (UAE) Jan 12, 2013

While initially Islamist groups abstained or were reluctant to join the revolutions, they have subsequently struck a blow against secularists and liberals whose bravery and determination held the revolutions together.
Particularly in Egypt, what started as general euphoria against the toppling of a dictator has increasingly become alienation for non-Islamists, as the same groups that were once oppressed are flexing their muscles and trying to enforce political hegemony.

Yet the Islamists in Egypt are a good example of why secularism is far from finished. The appeal of Islamist politics is gradually diminishing as the wider public begins to understand their real intentions. ... As the Brotherhood and the more fundamental Salafi groups state their views publicly, they become less popular.
The sudden profusion of religious television channels are unmasking their lack of political awareness or in-depth religious knowledge. Arabs can see how these groups utilise absurd discourses and antagonistic tones; blaming and insulting minority groups, demeaning women and threatening seculars and liberals.
While they give themselves the legitimacy to accuse others of apostasy (the Takfiri doctrine), they overlook that they are creating rejection by Muslims and non-Muslims, and by believers and non-believers. ...
In the short term, Islamist movements have failed to respond to the objectives of the people. Their credibility has been questioned as they repeatedly alter their narratives and alliances; seeking political supremacy or demanding Sharia by force.

The real challenge for the Islamist parties is to deliver a comprehensive economic agenda with tangible results that bolster (secular values as) education, economic growth, and employment. The Islamist parties have forgotten that economic decline was a major factor in the build-up to the Arab Spring.
They have not understood that the appeal of their ideology will fade among their supporters if it is not coupled with socio-economic development. The tolerance of Arab publics for religious rhetoric without political action is thin...

(Jasmine Roman is a pseudonym for a Syrian writer)

Secular Ethics

Secular ethics is a branch of moral philosophy in which ethics is based solely on human faculties such as logic, reason or moral intuition, and not derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance (which is the source of religious ethics).
Secular ethics comprises any ethical system that does not draw on the supernatural, such as humanism, secularism and freethinking.
Secular ethics frameworks do not necessarily contradict theological value systems. For example, the Golden Rule or a commitment to non-violence, could be supported by those within religious and secular frameworks. Secular ethics systems can also vary within the societal and cultural norms of a specific time period. (Wikipedia Info)

Flashback: "That what is sacred in the world is man"
General Mufti of the Syrian Arabic Republic, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun

Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
If we want peace, starting for example with Palestine and Israel, he suggested that rather than building walls, "let us build bridges of peace".
He also argued that "we must create states on a civil basis, not a religious basis", adding "I don't impose my religion on you, nor do you impose your religion on me". (European parlement, 15-1-2008)

How a Muslim Introduced Me to Humanism
Chris Stedman, Huffington Post 22-6-2012

"What's a 'Humanist'?"
As a Humanist activist, it's a question I hear a lot. I'm not comfortable with the idea of trying to answer it on behalf of all Humanists, so I usually respond to the question by sharing the story of how I came to identify as a Humanist...
The story of how I became a Humanist is a funny one to me in part because, after searching so long for an identity that affirmed my naturalistic worldview and compassionate ambitions, I found secular Humanism because of a Muslim...
While interning at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), my friend Eboo Patel introduced me to Greg Epstein's Good Without God and the works of other contemporary Humanists. From there, I began to devour Humanist literature; Confucius, Epicurus and Renaissance Humanism, up to more recent Humanist thinkers like Robert G. Ingersoll and Paul Kurtz. I read the various editions of the Humanist Manifestos and jumped up excitedly to repeat their words aloud:
"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."

This was what I believed -- particularly its emphasis on taking personal responsibility for the greater good of all...
If a devout Muslim can introduce an atheist like me to Humanism, then I believe anything is possible.

Eboo Patel is a member of President Barack Obama's inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. He is an American Ismaili Muslim of Gujarati Indian heritage and founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that aims to promote interfaith cooperation.

Hagel Nomination:
The Revenge of the Realists
by Justin Raimondo, 11-1-2013

To say that the events of September 11, 2001, had a distorting effect on American foreign policy is to seriously understate the case. What happened in the wake of that catastrophe, in the highest councils of the US government, has been called a coup by none other than Washington insider Bob Woodward. Citing Colin Powell, Woodward wrote:
Powell felt Cheney and his allies (I. Lewis Libby, Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith) had established what amounted to a separate government.”
A few scant months after 9/11 [..] the neoconservatives embedded in the administration of George W. Bush... They set up their own rogue agencies, which proceeded to gin up a war with forged "evidence" of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. In short: they lied us into war.
We are still living with the consequences of that highly successful deception, not only because of the many thousands of dead and wounded it produced, but also because American foreign policy became unhinged, both literally and figuratively. Unhinged from its traditional moorings in a responsible realism, but also in psychological terms: 9/11 drove American policymakers into a deadly madness.

It’s as if a poisonous wind had swept across this country in the wake of 9/11, emanating from Washington and New York, and rippling outward until it scorched the very air with its coruscating vapors. Time and nature – human nature – have healed the political landscape, but the poisonous vapors persist – leached into the very soil, contaminating the discourse with the neoconservative narrative. That narrative – that anyone who questions our foreign policy of belligerent entitlement and untrammeled militarism is a traitor and appeaser of "terrorism" – is being repeated verbatim in the fit of vituperation aimed at Hagel. ...

Hagel’s position as one of the leading Republican "realists" is well-known. He is a part of the same group which was briefly known as the Committee for the Republic [..] which is in loose alliance with Democratic foreign policy honchos like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Lee Hamilton. They aren’t anti-interventionists, but rather cautious internationalists... What they seek, after the madness of the Bush Doctrine, is to impose some sense of limits on a dangerously over-extended empire, in order to redirect our resources to the project of "nation-building" at home, rather than in the wilds of Central Asia.
They are, in short, tired of the neocons and their continued dominance in determining the foreign policy consensus in Washington...

A return to realism
By Paul Mulshine, New Jersey News 8-1-2013

With his nomination of Hagel, Obama seems determined to return to realism in foreign policy. Republicans used to boast of being realists. But the term became a dirty word in the years when Bush was employing the U.S. military as a sort of armed wing of the League of Women Voters in his haste to spread democracy. ...
In the run-up to the Iraq War in 2002, Scowcroft penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal headlined "Don’t attack Saddam." In it, he noted that an invasion "would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation." For good measure, he added that an invasion "could well destabilize Arab regimes in the region" and "could even swell the ranks of the terrorists." ... Hagel was saying the same sort of thing around the same time while a senator. ...

For some strange reason Obama seems to have concluded that [Hagel] might know a bit more about warfare than all of those Beltway intellectuals who had such grand ideas about remaking the world.
Whatever that reason is, conservatives can only be thankful — even if Obama is a commie.

US Embassy Iraq: "Dialogue is the responsibility of the Iraqis
not the outsiders" - Iraqi News Agency, 12/01/2013

Baghdad (NINA) – The United States Embassy in Iraq expressed concern over the increased tension in Iraq, affirming that it has called on all concerned sides to exercise the policy of retrain and respect the right of peaceful gathering and expression, as well as practice such rights in a responsible way.

In a statement to the press on Saturday, Jan. 12, spokesman for the US Embassy in Iraq [..] stressed the importance of treating all issues brought up during the protests through consultations between Iraq's political leaders to make suitable government and legislative decisions that would benefit all Iraqis. He demanded all sides to avoid any step that might harm the supremacy of law or would instigate sectarian or racial feud that would ruin all the progress Iraq has achieved...
He affirmed that the United States Embassy and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), continue their consultation with Iraqi leaders, at all levels and all spectrums, urging them to adopt constructive dialogue toward reaching just and practical solution, for the benefit of all Iraqis. He stressed that the task of adopting such dialogue is the responsibility of the Iraqis not the outsiders.

Shirin, No Quarter 6-9-2007: "US Embassy,
An Imperial Regional Command and Control Center"

US Embassy Iraq “Let’s not play games. This is not an embassy. No country needs to construct and maintain in the center of a foreign capital an embassy the size of a small city-state, self-contained in every way, with a staff of more than one thousand, and with its own missile defense system, for heaven’s sake. Not, that is, if the goal is to maintain diplomatic relations. Let’s call this what it really is – an Imperial Regional Command and Control Center.

“Back in the ’60's one of our next door neighbors in Baghdad was a U.S. embassy employee and his family. They used the same water, sewage, and electrical supply services that everyone else used, and their phone was on the same Iraqi telephone service every Iraqi household had. Like most middle class Iraqis, they had an Iraqi maid, an Iraqi cook, an Iraqi driver, and an Iraqi gardener (and boy was their garden beautiful – the nicest in the neighborhood!). They mostly ate the food that their cook bought in the Iraqi markets, though they also had access to a commisary with American specialties such as peanut butter and brown sugar. When they moved in they were a family of three – father, mother, and a daughter of two or three years. During their stay in that house they had a baby son, who was born in the same private Iraqi maternity hospital used by our family. That was then. Now U.S. “embassy” personnel will be hermetically sealed off from Iraq, Iraqis, and Iraqi services and infrastructure. How things have changed. …”

Basra reveals Baathists participation in its local elections
Shafaq News Iraq, 14 January 2013

Bremer in Fallujah 2003 Shafaq News / Basra Governorate Council revealed on Monday, that members of the outlawed Baath party have participated in the lists to contest in the provincial elections.
The member of the provincial council in Basra, Salman Daoud told "Shafaq News", that "there is information that confirm the that some of Baath Party members have participated in some of the blocs in order to contest in the next election process for the provincial councils."
He explained that, "We found that some of the candidates are eligible to participate in these elections because they may have experience and competence in the administration field and this helps them to provide services to the street, others don’t have any experience."

It is noteworthy that the former American civil governor in Iraq, Paul Bremer, decided after the entry of U.S. troops into Iraq in 2003 to ban the Baath Party...

AL Claims Concern Over Syrian Refugees,
Ignores Key Factors of Displacing Them
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jan 14, 2013

CAIRO, (SANA)_ The Arab League recent ministerial-level meeting held in Cairo discussed what it has called the Syrian refugees file, ignoring the causes and main factors that caused their displacement.
The speech of some ministers were full of lies and hypocrisy as they have ignored that their countries were the main cause behind the displacement of the Syrians as well as the sharing of these countries in the unfair unilateral economic sanctions which affected the Syrian people's livelihood directly. Some ministers shed crocodile tears on the humanitarian and the miserable living conditions of the displaced Syrians in spite of spending lots of money on recruiting mercenaries and takfiries, training them and on purchasing weapons for the terrorists.

The AL Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, exploited the session to beg for the foreign intervention, renewing the demand of the UN Security Council to issue a binding resolution under Chapter VII and deploy international forces in Syria. For his part, Lebanese Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, shed light on reasons of the displacement on top of which are the flow of weapons and money into Syria, the entry of foreign gunmen and not reaching to a political dialogue, calling on all sides to tackle this problem.
Mansour called on the AL to shoulder its responsibilities towards the refugees through ensuring their humanitarian, medical, livelihood, educational and services requirements in order to ease their daily suffering.

Refugees International: Syria

In the spring of 2011, conflict broke out between the Syrian government and opposition groups demanding reforms. Since then, tens of thousands of Syrians have been killed or wounded, and possibly one million have been displaced inside the country. The fighting and destruction continue to spread as the government and rebels struggle for control of the country. As of August 2012, 120,000 Syrians have registered as refugees in neighboring countries, and refugees already in Syria from third countries are being displaced again in growing numbers.
Best estimates suggest that up to one million Syrians are internally displaced, while up to 2.5 million inside the country may be vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance. ...
Before the conflict began, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supported a large population of registered Iraqi refugees in Syria, primarily in and around Damascus. ... About 15,000 Iraqis have fled back to Iraq as of August 2012 and are facing sectarian conflicts back home, as well as a lack of basic services and high unemployment.

Refugees International: Iraq

BBC info 2007 Though the U.S. military's occupation of Iraq has now ended, the country continues to face large scale displacement and pressing humanitarian needs. Millions of Iraqis have fled their homes – either for safer locations within Iraq or to other countries in the region – and are living in increasingly desperate circumstances. Iraq’s future will only be secure and prosperous if the needs of the displaced are also considered in all current and future policies and planning.
Refugees International has observed extreme vulnerabilities among the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in Syria, Jordan, and other parts of the region, as well as the millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq, over 500,000 of whom live as squatters in slum areas with no assistance or legal right to the properties they occupy.
While the Government of Iraq is well situated to generate significant revenue from its oil reserves, it will take years if not decades before these resources reach the most vulnerable...

Libyans praise Qatar role
Gulf Times, Doha Qatar 15-1-2013

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani held official talks yesterday evening with Libya’s Prime Minister Dr Ali Zeidan.
During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral ties and ways to enhance them in all fields. For his part, Zeidan praised Qatar’s role during the Libyan revolution and its help to the Libyan people, commending support till the Libyan people can establish and reconstruct their country and ensure its security and stability.
He expressed the hope that his first visit to Qatar would contribute to closer co-operation between the two countries.
The talks were attended by a number of ministers. On the Libyan side, the talks were attended by ministers and members of the official delegation. Later, the Prime Minister hosted a dinner banquet in honour of the Libyan premier.

France seeks help with Mali from GCC
The National (UAE) Jan 15, 2013

ABU DHABI // France expects GCC states to help an African campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali, possibly with materials or financing, the French foreign minister said today.
In response to questions from reporters, Laurent Fabius said the presence of French troops on the ground in Mali, an Islamic country, would not galvanise Al Qaeda recruitment in the region.
He said donors would meet towards the end of the month to finance an African push against Al Qaeda-linked fighters.
Asked how confident he was about getting troops from Gulf countries for deployment, Mr Fabius said: "Everybody has to commit to oneself in fighting against terrorism. We are pretty confident that the Emirates will go into that direction as well." "We shall have a discussion with the authorities in the Emirates. There are different ways of helping, it can be through materials, can be through financing," Fabius said. ...
French forces have, since Friday, been supporting an offensive by Malian government troops against Islamist groups which have controlled the north of the vast country since April last year.

The bombing of Mali highlights
all the lessons of western intervention
Glenn Greenwald,, 14-1-2013

Within the massive bombing campaign in Mali one finds most of the vital lessons about western intervention that, typically, are steadfastly ignored.

Ted Rall cartoon * Much of the instability in Mali is the direct result of Nato's intervention in Libya....
As Owen Jones wrote in the Independent: "This intervention is itself the consequence of another. The Libyan war is frequently touted as a success story for liberal interventionism. Yet the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi had consequences that Western intelligence services probably never even bothered to imagine.. here we are now engaging with its catastrophic blowback."
* The overthrow of the Malian government was enabled by US-trained-and-armed soldiers who defected. ... In other words, the west is once again at war with the very forces that it trained, funded and armed. Nobody is better at creating its own enemies, and thus ensuring a posture of endless war, than the US and its allies. Where the US cannot find enemies to fight against it, it simply empowers them.
* For all the self-flattering rhetoric that western democracies love to apply to themselves, it is extraordinary how these wars are waged without any pretense of democratic process. ... Jones notes that "it is disturbing – to say the least – how Cameron has led Britain into Mali's conflict without even a pretence at consultation."
* The propaganda used to justify all of this is depressingly common yet wildly effective. Any western government that wants to bomb Muslims simply slaps the label of "terrorists" on them, and any real debate or critical assessment instantly ends before it can even begin

Annan: Regional Countries Hinder Efforts
to Reach Serious Solution to Crisis in Syria
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jan 16, 2013

GENEVA, (SANA) – Former UN Secretary General who resigned his position as UN envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, said that many regional countries let him down in terms of implementing his six-point plan and offered only verbal support at a time when weapons and gunmen were flowing into Syria.
In a statement during the signing of his new book "Interventions: A Life in War and Peace", Annan said that the six-point plan could have been a serious beginning to solve the crisis in Syria, but many countries in the region were not serious as they offered only verbal support while they were sending arms to Syria on the other hand.
Annan added that these countries bet on the opposition and the military resolution within a specific period of time as they did not seriously adopt the solution plan, so they extended battles and betrayed the Syrian people.
Former UN Secretary General and the resigned UN envoy to Syria said that weapons and armed militias flow into Syria and nobody knows their direction, rejecting allegations that mediation gives the leadership in Syria more time and expand the range of the war.
He wondered why some parties do not want to reach a solution or establish a basis for dialogue to solve the crisis in Syria, saying that this is the only war in which he saw people pray for it not to end.

He noted that the sides which hindered his mission are now doing the same with his successor, Lakhdar Brahimi, considering that Brahimi did not receive support and the help required to make the mediation a success.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today (14 January) his efforts to mediate the Syrian conflict last year had faced opposition from people in the region who “were not in favour of the talks" and had paid "lip service to accept the six-point plan, but nothing happened.” UN Mulitmedia-TV

Salafists Vow to Fight Until
There Is An 'Islamic State in Syria'
By: Tulin Daloglu for Al-Monitor Turkey 16-1-2013

"Rami Youssef" is his revolutionary alias. This young man — aged 18 with dark features and a full, circular beard and shaved mustache in the tradition of the Prophet — has been in Turkey for less than a week. His elder brother said of Rami, "He wants to go back to Aleppo tomorrow and continue fighting." Speaking to Al-Monitor on Jan. 15 via Skype from his brother's house in Gaziantep, Rami acknowledged that he is from the al-Suddik brigade of the Ahrar al-Sham Battalions (established in late 2011 as a Salafist group)...
"We are an Islamic group, and we want to establish an Islamic country when the [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad era ends," said Rami. Rami claimed to have no knowledge of Mouaz Alkhatib, the former imam of a Damascus mosque and the new, internationally recognized leader of the Syrian opposition.
"Most of the fighters just fight because Assad is evil, but they don't know anything about this guy or the opposition outside. They just believe Assad needs to go."
He then stressed, "We will fight until we establish an Islamic state in Syria. Even the 75% of the Free Syrian Army is fighting with this in mind. We don't want it as strict as Saudi Arabia, but we will not let go until we achieve our goal."

The founder of Ahrar al-Sham goes by the name Abu Abdallah, but he remains mysterious. No one knows much about him. Even Rami preferred not to talk about him or his whereabouts except to reveal, “He is also from Aleppo.” Rami claimed that there are some 5,000 to 6,000 Ahrar al-Sham fighters in Aleppo and the surrounding countryside and admitted that they receive foreign funding.
“We get money from the Gulf – mainly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as Kuwait and Bahrain,” he said. “We fight in our name as Ahrar al-Sham, so our budget is not the same as the Free Syrian Army's. And we only use this money to buy weaponry for ourselves and the battalion.”
“We usually have machine guns and RPGs,” Rami told Al-Monitor. “We just recently started to get anti-aircraft weaponry. We looted some from the regular army. We buy the rest from Turkey or Chechnya or other places.” ...

Rami argues that the fighting in Syria has been sectarian from day one. ... "It’s our jihadist duty. Now the Alawites are escaping to the coast, moving toward the Latakia region.” The composition of Ahrar al-Sham is different from the Free Syrian Army, whose members are mostly retired from or defectors from the regular Syrian army. “About half of us are Syrian. We have members of the Muslim Brotherhood in our group,” said Rami. “But the rest are coming from Libya, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and Azerbaijan. There are even people coming from Belgium.”

Ahrar al-Sham stated its goal to replace the Assad regime with an Islamic state. ... It also described the uprising as a jihad against a Safawi plot to spread Shiism and establish a Shiite state from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and Palestine. (Wikipedia info)

Syrian Rebel Groups Form “Islamic Syrian Front”
By Florian Flade, 22-12-2012

Three Syrian rebel groups with probably hundreds to thousands of fighters have announced the formation of a new joint-organization called “Islamic Front of Syria” or “Jabhat al-Islamiyya as-Suriya”.

A video was released on the Internet showing the leaders of Ahrar al-Sham, Ansar al-Islam and Jaysh al-Tawhid presenting the foundation of the new group. Coming from a Sunni-Salafi background the “Islamic Front of Syria” is believed to function as an umbrella organization. With the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and the Jihadi faction “Jabhat al-Nusrah” the new group is now one of the major players in the Syrian conflict.

Iran-Brotherhood ties: rooted in history with eye on future
Hassan Hassan, The National January 15, 2013

A salient feature of Iran's foreign policy is its ability to build influence where least expected. With the ascent to power of Sunni Islamists throughout the region, and Iran's support of the military campaign in Syria, many have argued that Iran's regional standing is in decline.
But the opposite assessment needs to be taken seriously. Iran has been upbeat about the popular revolts, dubbing them an "Islamic Awakening" and confident it can build strong ties with the people of the region after the demise of dictatorial rule in the Arab republics.
That prospect is particularly true with the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots throughout the region - including even those that currently perceive Iran as an enemy, such as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood....

The Brotherhood welcomed the 1979 Islamic Revolution, although members later expressed disappointment that Ayatollah Khomeini established a sectarian state, rather than an inclusive Islamic state that respected the rights of Sunni adherents in Iran. Relations with Tehran faltered during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988), but were not severed.
Iran's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly praised the organisation and translated some of Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb's books into Farsi. After the Egyptian uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, more Brotherhood books have been translated into Farsi, including one about the history of the organisation, translated by Ayatollah Hadi Khosrowshahi, the former adviser to Iran's foreign minister.

The Brotherhood and adherents of Khomeinism share common Islamic views that make them closer to each other than to their fellow Sunnis or Shiites. The Brotherhood deems rulership a religious "asel", meaning that one's faith is not complete without pledging allegiance to an imam - unlike the consensus in mainstream Sunni Islam. This is similar to the concept of velayat-e faqih, which holds that a religious jurist has custodianship over the people.
Other similarities include the institution of the "general guide", and the ability to exercise taqiyya, a form of religious dissimulation to avoid persecution or harm. Both ideologies approve of election as a political mechanism but require the rule of Sharia and oversight by religious people of the population's choice - which can be described as a clergy-supervised democracy, or constitutional theocracy.

According to people I've spoken to, the Brotherhood leadership [..] treads carefully in terms of rapprochement with Iran to avoid alienating sectarian forces inside and outside the organisation, but at the same time quietly promotes it.
The rapprochement is of course not without risks. Salafists, now major players in Egyptian politics, are vehemently opposed to any Iranian influence or spread of Shia Islam, which many consider "enemy No 1".

Sistani: Differences with Khomeini
By Sami Moubayed, Asia Times Online 10-2-2005

The Grand Ayatollah of Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, was born in Mashhad, Iran, in 1929 to a family of religious scholars. He studied at the hands of the grand ayatollah Abdul-Qasim Khoei. Sistani rose in religious rank to be named a marje (religious reference) in 1960 during the heyday of the secular military dictatorship of president Abd al-Karim Qasim. He embraced religion when Arab, rather than Islamic, nationalism was the popular ideology in Iraq...
In theory, he supported the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, but he grew disenchanted by Khomeini's theocracy. Sistani believed that government should be run by politicians, not clergymen, whose duty would be to maintain law and order and to run economic affairs, day-to-day politics and foreign relations.
The clergy should not become politicians, he stressed, because this would corrupt them and distort their religious message
. Instead, they should limit themselves to spiritual and religious matters in which the politicians cannot pass sound judgment.
Khomeinism, on the other hand, gave complete political control and responsibility to the clergymen. Khomeini advocated a system called vilayet-e-faqih (guardianship of the jurisprudent); clerical rule in political affairs, while Sistani called for it only in social issues.

While Khomeini's team, and not necessarily Khomeini himself, was influenced by the methods of Arab dictators, such as immortalizing the leader and one-party rule, Sistani was a democrat at heart who believed in the people's right to choose.

Hassan Sobhani announces presidential candidacy
Tehran Times, 19 January 2013

TEHRAN – Hassan Sobhani, a professor of economics at Tehran University and former parliamentarian, has confirmed reports that he plans to run for the presidential post as an independent candidate. The presidential election in Iran will be held on June 14.
“I have made my final decision in future presidential election and I officially announce my candidacy,” Sobhani said on Saturday.
On whether he will be supported by any political faction or group in his presidential bid, he said, “I am not aligned to any group and have not intention” to do so, the economic expert said.

Presidential Race Begins in Iran
By: Shahir Shahidsaless for Al-Monitor, 11-12-2012

The competition will be among four main political factions:

Traditional conservatives who participated in the March 2012 parliamentary elections under the banner of the United Front of Principalists. This front is led by the Association of Militant Clergy and the Society of Qom Seminary Instructors and is relatively moderate on both domestic and international policies.

does he undermine clergy's role? Ultra-conservatives known as the Islamic Constancy Front. This front’s ideological leader is Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, an anti-Western extremist. Its other leaders are politicians who once supported incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but have distanced themselves from him. Their hostility stems from the president’s religious-nationalistic discourse, his challenges to Khamenei and his dismissal of opposing factions in decision-making.

Supporters of Ahmadinejad’s administration. This camp is labeled as “deviationists” by the first two groups, whose hostile position toward the "deviationist" camp stems from their ideas for propagating a religious-nationalistic discourse that is allegedly trying to undermine the clergy’s role.

Reformists. Former president Mohammad Khatami has said this group will not participate in the elections unless former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are freed from house arrest. But there is still likely to be a standard-bearer who did not play an active part in the 2009 Green Movement and who will try to attract middle and upper-middle-class urbanites and secular and religious liberals that shaped the backbone of the Green Movement.

Wikipedia Info: The President of Iran is the highest official elected by direct popular vote, and does control foreign policy and the armed forces. Candidates have to be vetted by the Guardian Council, a twelve member body consisting of six clerics (selected by Iran's Supreme Leader) and six lawyers (proposed by the head of Iran's judicial system and voted in by the Parliament).
In December 2012 new legislation sets a minimum age of 40 and a maximum of 75. It demands a candidate have at least a doctoral degree or its seminary equivalent, which eliminates many midranking clerics.

Other candidates who have announced their intention to stand for the post: Manouchehr Mottaki (Conservative - born 12 May 1953, former foreign minister) and Hooshang Amirahmadi (Independent - dual Iranian-US citizenship).

Ahmadinejad slams pressure to impose Islamic values
Atta Kenare, December 31, 2012

Portrait of the young prophet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has again spoken out against the use of pressure to impose Islamic values on people, especially university candidates, media reported...
You cannot impose things by issuing decrees and directives — a choice imposed by force has no value whatsoever,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech.
“In some universities, female students are forced to wear the chador (covering the whole body, leaving only the face exposed), but the way they are forced to wear it… it is better not worn since it becomes worthless,” he said.
He also criticised criteria on the selection of university candidates, citing the case of a student denied university admittance in the 1980s because he had shaved. Being unshaven in Iran is a sign that you are a good Muslim.

Ahmadinejad, whose second and final presidential term ends in 2013, has repeatedly drawn the ire of ultra-conservative religious figures in the Islamic republic by advocating a more liberal view of Islam, criticising in particular the use of force to compel women to cover their hair.

Idolising the prophet

The question is why should a believer, who professes to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and who professes to follow the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), want to grow a beard?
The answer is simple. Today, you might have seen many youngsters copy the fashion of sport-stars, Hollywood-stars or anybody else whom they love. If you notice today, many hot Hollywood stars and sport stars are sporting a "goatie" beard! And true to fashion, you see a lot of people around today who keep "goatie" beards!!!
As Muslims, our role model should always be the Prophet (saws). We love to copy everything he did ... He had a beard, and if indeed, we want to follow the Messenger of Allah (saws), we should strive to grow a beard.

What does the Koran say about idol worship

* Islam believes that God is shapeless, beyond human imagination. Hence by giving a shape to God in the form of an idol, one limits His size, shape etc. to what suits one's own sensory perception (which can be imperfect).
* Secondly, if one worships other gods (by making their idols or even otherwise), it is considered as "shirk" or attributing partners to Him, which is inacceptable to the One and Only Lord, and an unforgivable sin.
* This is where other religions differ from Islam. There is no God but Allah... The Koran says "He is Allah, the One God, who is self sufficient, who has no son, nor has been born from someone, there is no one comparable to Him". (SURA IKHLAAS, Ch. 112)

Hence, idols are not to be worshipped.

Syria’s Reconciliation Minister:
The National Coalition is advocating only a military solution
By Antoun Issa, Al-Monitor January 18 2013

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor from his office in Damascus, Ali Haidar, Syria's minister of national reconciliation and leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, said that President Assad’s Jan. 6 speech constitutes "a step forward toward solving the crisis” and that Turkey is "supporting some of the Syrian people at the expense of others.”
Haidar, who is an Ismaili originally from Hama, explained that Assad’s proposals lay out a process leading to a referendum on a new constitution.
“This is when the role of this current government will come to an end,” Haidar said, “paving the way for a new government that will be the product of subsequent elections and the national dialogue.”

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, according to Haidar, is complicit in the continued violence in Syria by advocating only a military solution to the conflict.
“I will say that merely through resorting to violent means, through excluding a segment of Syrians from the future dialogue table, from refusing to participate in dialogue, this makes [the coalition] responsible for a large part of the violence that is happening in Syria,” he said.

Al-Monitor: The leadership of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces are demanding regime change prior to negotiations. Are you in contact with the National Council? What is your message to them? How do you assess their influence within Syria, and their relationship to FSA forces?

Haidar: Naturally, the coalition that was formed in Doha and that came against the backdrop of the Istanbul Council is a coalition comprising a group of figures rather then being one of political forces, or political forces closely linked to a foreign project calling for the overthrow of the regime...
Therefore, without making a value judgment as to whether or not the position of the National Coalition, which is based abroad today, is correct or not, I will say that merely through resorting to violent means, through excluding a segment of Syrians from the future dialogue table, from refusing to participate in dialogue, this makes [the coalition] responsible for a large part of the violence that is happening in Syria...

On the one hand, they are insisting on calling for regime change prior to dialogue, but after a regime change who would we hold a dialogue with? What is the basis of dialogue? For there to be dialogue there must be another side with which we disagree regarding goals, principles, and slogans, as well as regarding the political project and general project for Syria. Therefore it is not logical to say that we will participate in dialogue after regime change. We participate in dialogue to achieve regime change. We participate in dialogue to present our vision for the future of Syria. We participate in dialogue to present our opinions and ideas, and to defend the rights and just demands of the Syrian people, to defend their visions for a better future in a proper manner, not vice versa.

As for [the coalition's] relationship with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the fact of the matter is that this point should be examined from another point of view. First of all, the armed organizations on the ground in Syria are not all part a unified organization called the FSA. In Syria today there are up to 300 armed regional groups that are not linked to one another through any joint leadership or shared vision regarding what is happening on the ground. The FSA constitutes only a small number of the armed forces fighting in Syria today.
[The FSA] could become even less influential with the presence of armed terrorist groups coming from abroad, which have their own agendas...
There is no direct relationship between the coalition and the armed groups, especially the FSA, within Syria. However, when abroad, the political forces, and the National Coalition in particular, say that they have an internal presence through the FSA, in order to strengthen their position and to put forth their ideas and positions.

The coalition does not speak of political forces existing in Syria that they have relations with, or that could play the required political role in Syria in the future.

Hassan Rohani: "Practical plans"
Mehr News Agency 23-1-2013

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (MNA) – “The new government will have many challenges and the new president’s job will be very tough,” Hassan Rohani, director of the Research Center of the Expediency Council, said in an interview with the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency. “At least in the area of economy, the new government will face great problems,” Rohani said.
For example, he said, turbulence in the foreign currency market, high commodity prices, and foreign trade are among issues that the next government should tackle with.
He added that financial, monetary, banking issues and social affairs, especially the income gap created between social classes, are also among other problems that the next administration should deal with.
The former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council also said that the next president should present practical plans for resolving problems.
“Anybody who wants to stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election should work out a solution and present practical plans for these problems.”

29-2-2008: “Foreign policy is not giving slogans, it is not stubbornness, it is the art of dialogue and flexibility, it is not the art of making enemies, but friends”

Speaking at a conference on the “20 Years Perspectives and a Progressive Foreign Policy”, Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rohani pointed out at the ambiguities of the Iranian political “jargon”, saying “we still have not reached an agreement on many problems, on how to conduct our foreign policy, on how to deal with our interlocutors, on how to present our policies to the world opinion”. ....
“One day they said we should not talk to the foreigners because they are spies and inflidels, they are traitors, and then they changed their minds, said the spies are nice people. How can we explain such contradictions?” Mr. Rohani asked.
Mr. Rohani criticised the harsh and coarse language of the President and his insistence that the Islamic Republic is a model for the whole world, particularly the Islamic nations, saying: “We can not say we want progress and development and at the same time insist that we don’t care about the world…, a world that more and more is interconnected, a world in which we need a good policy, not coarse words”.

“In our foreign policy, do we want to be ambiguous, or clear, do we want the region and the world to be afraid of us or to be our friends, do we want to become everyday more fearful or more attractive?”, the outspoken cleric [..] concluded. (Iran Press Service 2008)

Netanyahu Emerges Weakened,
But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
by Juan Cole, 23-1-2013

The combined Likud coalition with Yisrael Beitenu only got about 31 seats (the Israeli parliament has 120).
Likud is a far rightwing party based on the Fascist political philosophy of Vladimir Jabotinsky in the 1930s, while Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) is a far right nationalist party based on Russian, Ukrainian and other former Soviet Bloc populations, many of them only nominally Jewish or not actually Jewish at all...
Netanyahu is convinced that he will still be able to cobble together the 61 seats needed, at a bare minimum, for a majority in the Knesset. This outcome, however, is by no means a sure thing. Even if he can win a third term, his government will be fragile and deeply divided.

The Israeli Left was given a boost in the summer of 2011, when youth demonstrated against the Neoliberal economic policies of the Likud government, which is market-oriented... Many of the youth mobilized for those demonstrations appear to have come out to vote for centrist parties.
The 20% of Israelis of Palestinian heritage do not usually vote in larger numbers. They face so much discrimination that it is hard to convince them that anything good can come from an Israeli election.

4 million Palestinians living under Israeli control could not vote in these elections. ... Israel has annexed the Palestinians but is keeping them stateless. There is no other country in the world engaged in so cruel an enterprise.
Some countries do subject neighboring territories and annex them, but they give citizenship, or the rights typically enjoyed by citizens, to the people there. The locals may not want that particular political identity, but at least they have a passport and they have the rights of citizens under the law.

Lavrov: Efforts to Settle Crisis in Syria
Confronted By Opposition's Rejection
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jan 23, 2013

MOSCOW, (SANA) – Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said the terrorist acts are continuing in Syria because of the uncontrolled flow of weapons and gunmen to the country.
In a speech during the annual conference on the results of the Russian diplomacy in 2012, Lavrov stressed that the priority for Russia is to consolidate dialogue as to solve the crisis in Syria in full accordance with the Geneva statement without any distortion. ...
He highlighted that the efforts of Russia and China with the UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, are hindered by the Syrian opposition which rejects dialogue and insists on bringing down the regime, "which is an unacceptable idea that will not be useful for dialogue".

Lavrov expressed regret over the wrong messages sent by other participants of the Geneva action group to the Syrian opposition that doesn't want to meet with the government.
"I don't know why the West welcomed the 'Doha Coalition' which rejected the dialogue, they should commit the coalition to hold dialogue," Lavrov said...
Lavrov described Washington's exclusion of Iran from participating in solving the crisis in Syria as a "great mistake", adding that Tehran is a key country and problems in the region cannot be solved without it.

Clinton testifies: ‘Algerian terrorists got weapons from Libya’
Russia Today, 23 January, 2013

clinton & fabius US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Islamists who carried out an attack on a gas plant in Algeria acquired weapons in Libya.
"There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya. There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] have weapons from Libya," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Clinton said she was unable to weigh in on reports that some of the terrorists involved in the Algerian hostage crisis had played a part in the Benghazi attack.

Clinton also stressed how the 2011 Arab Spring fostered the conditions in which the September 11 Benghazi attack, which resulted in the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, took place. She further drew a line between Libya and the ongoing conflict in Mali, which spurred an intervention by French forces earlier this month.
"Benghazi didn't happen in a vacuum," Clinton said. "The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region. And instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we saw just last week in Algeria."

Russia, who backed a UN Security Council resolution on intervention in Mali, but was staunchly opposed to NATO’s 2011 toppling of the Gaddafi regime, blamed the US and its allies for the current crisis in the West African state.
"Those whom the French and Africans are fighting now in Mali are the (same) people who overthrew the Gaddafi regime, those that our Western partners armed so that they would overthrow the Gaddafi regime," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Wednesday.
Saying that terrorists attacks had almost become a daily occurrence in the region, Lavrov reiterated: “The situation in Mali seems the consequence of events in Libya. The seizure of hostages in Algeria was a wake-up call."

INTERVIEW: Brotherhood sec-general says
Egypt's 'undemocratic' opposition losing street
Ahmed Eleiba, Ahram Online 24 Jan 2013

In an interview with Ahram Online, Mahmoud Hussein, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood, takes a swipe at the opposition...

- What do you think of the opposition’s reaction to the measures taken so far, especially with regard to the referendum?

The opposition made a serious mistake when it resorted to lying and disinformation and when it used undemocratic methods to change things. We have seen street action that wasn’t peaceful, and an attempt to storm Al-Ittihadiya Palace [the presidential palace]. People were prevented from entering Tahrir Square and violence was committed when Brotherhood offices were set on fire and thugs were sent to Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square.
None of this was democratic and yet no [opposition] politicians denounced these actions. Indeed, they were pleased with what happened.

- But there are many controversial articles, important ones, nearly 15 of them, in the constitution.

The points of controversy were less than clear. ... Besides, we don’t believe that the constitution encroaches on the rights of Copts or the judiciary. What was interesting is how the politicians came up with fabricated articles and attributed them to the constitution. Nowhere in the world do you find politicians fabricating provisions and presenting them as if they were part of the constitution.

- So the Muslim Brotherhood is satisfied with the constitution?

We believe that in terms of general framework, public policy and freedoms this constitution is excellent.

- The National Salvation Front rejected the constitution and Hamdeen Sabbahi vowed to struggle to bring it down. What is your comment?

This is a punishable offence. How can a politician stand in public and say that he wishes to bring down the constitution? Should society view him as a politician or a thug? ....
To say that you want to bring down a constitution that was approved by the people; this is a remark that befits a thug, not a politician. No offence.

- How do you see the National Salvation Front?

If it acts as a strong opposition, this would be good for political life. .. I don’t see this happening. The opposition adopted non-democratic and non-political means, and I believe that it has lost a lot. ... It is losing in the streets because it resorts to lying and disinformation.

- What is the nature of the relationship between the presidency and the Brotherhood?

The Brotherhood makes its decisions independently and has nothing to do with the presidency; the presidency’s decision-making is independent and has nothing to do with the Brotherhood.

Likewise, the decisions of the [Freedom and Justice] Party have nothing to do with the Brotherhood or the presidency. ...

We do not interfere in the decisions of the presidency. Nor does the presidency interfere in our decisions.

- Is there any chance of having real dialogue with the opposition?

We believe in dialogue with everyone, with opponents, with dissidents, and even with enemies, with a few exceptions regarding the Israeli occupiers. Our doors are wide open. We have never been asked to come to a dialogue and refused, never.

- What about the [..] relation between preaching and politics? ... In his book The Secret of the Temple Tharwat El-Kherbawi speaks of an alliance between the Brotherhood and (jihadist leader) Shukri Mustafa.

We do not accept any accusations directed at the Brotherhood by outsiders. These are unfair and totally groundless. ... These [accounts by Tammam and El-Kherbawi] are utter lies.
The Brotherhood has no militia. It has no military training. It has no secret outfit. It had none of these things under the deposed regime or the one preceding it.

See also: Who is who in Muslim Brotherhood?

Ministerial Committee Discusses Guarantees to Be Offered
to Opposition Sides Abroad in Case They Take Part in Dialogue
Syria Millennium, 24-1-2013

The Ministerial committee charged with carrying out the political program to resolve the crisis in Syria, headed by the Prime Minister, in the presence of chairman of the National Security Bureau, Interior Minister and a number of directors of departments in the Interior Ministry, held a meeting today to discuss the Ministry's memorandum regarding the guarantees that should be given to the Syrian opposition powers and figures abroad in case they come to Syria to take part in the dialogues that will be run by the committee in preparation for convening a national comprehensive dialogue.

Members of the Ministerial committee presented their notes on the procedures and mechanisms that will be taken in this regard through the air, land and marine borders in addition to the relevant logistic measures to guarantee holding those dialogues within a true, democratic and national atmosphere according to advanced legal criterion.
The Prime Minister asked the Interior Ministry to complete preparations and procedures, and take all necessary measures to put the memorandum and the meeting's discussions into practical effect.

Interior Ministry Calls on Citizens who Left Country to Return Home
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jan 25, 2013

celebrating the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad DAMASCUS, (SANA)-Interior Ministry Thursday announced that according to the political program to solve the crisis in Syria and the government's statement to carry out this program, particularly the 7th article of the political program on offering guarantees to the Syrian citizens who want to return home, the Ministry calls on all Syrian citizens who left the country because of the events, whether legally or illegally, regardless of the measures taken against them, to return to the country...
In the same context, and in light of the 8th article of the Program on offering guarantees to all political opposition sides to enter the country, reside or leave it to take part in the national dialogue without any query, the Ministry declares the following:
It is allowed to all Syrian opposition powers abroad who have the desire to participate in the national dialogue to enter Syria, regardless of the documents they bear through Damascus international airport, border points of Jdaidat Yabous, Nasib, Kassab and al-Tanf.
The statement added that all facilitations would be given to the opposition figures and the Ministry would treat their cases through the border points as well as providing them with signed, sealed documents by Chairman of the border center.

Shirzad al-Najjar: Today's politicians are men of their own parties
Shafaq News 23 January 2013

Dr. Shirzad Ahmed Ameen al-Najjar is a professor in politics in the University of Saladdin. "Shafaq News" interviewed this Kurdish professor in order to highlight Iraq's current dilemma and political disagreements.

Shafaq News: what's your point of view regarding the current situation in the country?

Shirzad al-Najjar: there is a question mark we should raise, what is going on in Iraq? Such political situation? Is it logical? Or kind of craziness?
What's going on in Iraq is not a kind of politics... Nuri al-Maliki (PM) is not practicing politics; he practices another kind of activity. On the other hand our nowadays' politicians are not real political men, they are –rather- men of their own political parties, this is why the state is being drifted to a disaster.

Shafaq News: Do you think the 'current Iraq' is in need for a technocratic government?

Shirzad al-Najjar: I believe that we can get benefit from other countries' experience in order to avoid the consequences of the current situation, which is either to form a comprehensive national government or a technocratic government or both, in order to allow the current political crisis in Iraq get recovered.

Shafaq News: you referred that Iraq is heading toward a 'dividing' because each content vote for their representatives, i.e. Kurds voted on behalf of Kurdish candidates and so are Shia, Sunni, Turkmen, Christians and others but do not you think that Iraq is already indirectly divided?

Shirzad al-Najjar: an elections-result is an outcome of the electoral system, so if the law of elections stated another kind of electoral system then the result would be different, in order to solve the current situation we –first- need to amend the electoral code and –then- to educate people.

France says frustrated as efforts fail to topple Assad
Press TV Jan 25, 2013

Safwat Hegazi is an Egyptian self proclaimed imam and television preacher who is on the list of "Individuals banned from the UK for stirring-up hatred". The government of the United Kingdom declared that he is "considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by glorifying terrorist violence."

France says the developments in Syria have been unfolding against what Paris had hoped for, namely the fall of President Bashar al-Assad.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday, “Things are not moving. The solution that we had hoped for, and by that I mean the fall of Bashar and the arrival of the (opposition) coalition to power, has not happened.”...
France became the first European country to recognize Syria’s opposition coalition on November 13, 2012. Paris said it would look into the issue of arming the militant groups in Syria.
The so-called Syrian National Council (SNC) was formed in November 2012 with Western and Arab backing in Qatar after opposition groups signed a unity agreement to form a new leadership against the Syrian president under pressure from the United States, Qatar and the Saudi regime.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev censured the French government on November 26, 2012, for supporting the militants in Syria and said, “The desire to change a political regime in another state through recognition of some political force as the sole sovereign representative seems to me not entirely civilized.”

Egypt's revolution: Inglorious anniversary
Andrei Ontikov, Voice of Russia 25-1-2013

On January 25, Egypt is celebrating the second anniversary of the revolution of 2011, as a result of which, President Hosni Mubarak was ousted and an Islamist party “Muslim Botherhood” came to power.

Egyptian political observer Hani Ayad says:
“In fact, as a result of this revolution, nobody in Egypt gained anything, except “the Muslim Brotherhood”. In January 2011, people took to the streets demanding rights and freedoms. As a result of this revolution, they gained no new rights or freedoms and even lost lost many old ones. I daresay that this revolution threw Egypt’s development back. The country’s economy is in a crisis, poverty and unemployment are increasing.”

Russian expert in Eastern affairs Leonid Isaev has a similar opinion:
“Before 2011, Egypt developed rather rapidly both from the point of view of economy and in the social sphere. After the revolution, this positive development stopped. Now, the once rather prosperous Egypt has to take loans from other countries and international organizations.”
“Besides an economic crisis, Egypt is now also in a political one,” Mr. Isaev continues, “and there seem to be no end to this crisis. Under President Mubarak, Egypt, to a large extent, determined the entire political situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Now, it practically has no influence on other countries at all. I cannot name any merit that this revolution brought to Egypt’s people...”

Morsi says ‘counter-revolution’ is obstructing Egypt's development
Ahram Online, 24 Jan 2013

Egypt president Mohamed Morsi has taken a swipe at what he described as remnants of the Hosni Mubarak regime for trying to plunge the country into deep troubles as it struggles to recover from economic woes.
Morsi gave a speech at the Azhar Conference Hall in Cairo in celebration of the Mulid Al-Nabi (birth of Prophet Muhammad), during which he said “counter-revolution” forces are attempting to “undermine the [Egyptian] state.”
"The counter-revolution is being led by remnants of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime to obstruct everything in the country," he said, echoing similar sentiments from the influential Muslim Brotherhood group, which propelled him to power in last year’s presidential election.
Egypt is struggling to overcome an economic crisis that saw the Egyptian pound hit record lows against the U.S dollar, thanks to a political turbulence that shows no signs of easing off.

Speaking about regional matters, Morsi reiterated that the Syrian regime must bow to the demands of its people, saying it has no future in the country.
Morsi also said he rejected the foreign intervention in the Mali crisis, saying it would have “serious repercussions” on the region.

Youssef El-Qaradawi: "Gift from God"

Egyptian sheikh Youssef El-Qaradawi said that the revolution is "a gift from God" in his Friday sermon from Al-Azhar Mosque on the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution.
El-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Islamic Scholars, said that "whoever doubts that [the revolution] is God's gift, doubts certainty." (Ahram online 25-1-2013)

Tens of thousands protest in Egypt to mark revolt
Russia Today 26-1-2013

Molotov cocktails, rocks, teargas and gunfire marked the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. Suez saw some of the worst clashes between police and protesters, who set ablaze a government building that once housed the city's local government. Troops have been deployed to the city and tanks are in the streets, RT’s Bel Trew reports.
Meanwhile President Morsi urged the nation to “reject violence.” “I call on all citizens to hold onto the noble principles of the Egyptian revolution to peacefully and freely express their views,” he tweeted. Morsi also issued condolences to the families of those killed in Friday’s clashes.

The protesters continue to demand the “overthrow of the regime” embodied by chants such as “Escalation, escalation! A revolution all over again!”
Relatives of Egyptian revolutionary icon Khaled Said, the young man brutally beaten to death by the police in 2010, also joined Friday’s protests.
“I want justice and order; I want to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. I am not happy with anything that happened over the past six months; they were worse than Mubarak’s 30 years,” Said’s sister told Ahram Online.
Voicing Egyptian protesters frustration with the elections, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood-shaped constitution and government, she said they have “disregarded the interest of Egyptians and only went after their own.”

“Muslim Brotherhood made a dirty deal with the military behind the backs of the majority of the population and they’re going against the interest of a secular state, which the majority of the Egyptian people want,” author and geopolitical analyst William Engdahl told RT.
According to Engdahl, while Muslim Brotherhood is the “best organized force in the country,” they are “so preoccupied with this Sharia agenda, this islamization, creating this state which de facto is emerging to be an Islamic fascist regime” that they neglected the real functioning of economy and let it remain in shambles.

Lebanese MP and Marada Movement head Suleiman Frangieh
On the Situation in Syria - Al-Akhbar 26-1-2013

Everyone here is betting on what will happen in Syria. Our adversaries are betting that the regime will fall and we are betting that it will remain.

Syria Video News 27-1-2013
“Syria is getting more comfortable every day and will be at the heart of the deal. The question is in what condition Syria will be in after the crisis. This is related to the position of the Assad regime.
“I do not know what the deal will be, but it will be on Syria’s image. The current international balance is in the regime’s favor, not its enemies.
The regime is strong. The army is strong and unified. All attempts to make it collapse and split have failed for the past three years. Time is on the regime’s side.

“Of course, this will have repercussions of the whole region. If Syria is cleaned, then it means some lose and some cannot return. The available data on Syrian refugees and fugitives in our territories is not reassuring. What if they do not return to Syria? Who are those who will remain? How many of them can we handle? We could not handle the Shaker al-Absi group [Fatah al-Islam] and they destroyed the country. What about these people? Syria is now a playground for extremists from around the world who claim they are jihadists. One day, they might be in Lebanon.”

For Syria News Vids see also: Syrian Free Press

Is that the Egypt we dreamed of?
By Abdel Latif el-Menawy, Al-Arabya, 27-1-2013

What we have now is the same old equation, only with a change in its components. Those who ruled are now in prison or in the opposition while the factions of political Islam, which constituted the main opposition bloc in the past 60 years under the leadership of its biggest group, are now in power and maintaining the tactics of the old regime. This group stole the dream of Egyptian average citizens who thought that the slogan they used will turn into a reality only to find out that it was just used as a tool of political victory on the part of the group. ...

Lying has become the norm. The new rulers have been lying from day one and continued to do so for two whole years. Lying has become a system of governance and a style of life. ...
A few months after coming to power, the new rulers managed to undermine all the people’s dreams and nothing will stand in their way, for they are determined to seize control on all the state legislative and executive powers... They drafted a constitution that guarantees that they remain in power and they threatened to hunt down all forms of opposition through the deformed laws they will pass.

It is a big mistake to assume that the new rulers will offer any concessions or give precedence to the nation over the group, for their ideology does not make of the homeland a first priority....

Abdel Latif al-Menawy is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate.

Students of Aleppo University: Terrorist groups try to impose
their illiteracy on the Syrian people - SANA Jan 29, 2013

ALEPPO, (SANA) – Students of Aleppo University stressed that the crimes committed by the terrorists against their university and colleagues will make them more resolved to continue their scientific attainment and face terrorism.
Resuming the exams, halted due to the terrorist attack against the university, the students told SANA that the terrorist attack is a coward crime committed by terrorist groups which try to impose their illiteracy on the Syrian people.
They noted that Aleppo University will continue graduating new generations of educated youth that is able to foil any aggression against the country.
Deputy Dean of Aleppo University for Scientific Affairs, Dr. Saad Eddin Zaytoon, said that the university took all measures to ensure the safety and security of the students and the university.

UN’s Libya Envoy Fears Mali War Will Drive Islamists Into Libya
by Jason Ditz, 29-1-2013

source: website UN Special Representative to Libya Tarek Mitri expressed concern today that as the French invasion of Mali continues to press northward, the rebel factions may flee across the border into Algeria and wind up in Libya.
Interestingly, the Mali rebels obtained most of their weaponry in the first place from Libya, as the NATO-imposed regime change led to looting of the Gadhafi regimes arsenal and its sale on black markets across the region. Those weapons may end up back in Libya the hard way, as the fighters in Mali eventually back out of the desert north of that nation and resettle as armed factions in southern Libya, an area that already has plenty of such warring factions.
Mitri warned that Libya is already struggling with stability and that ideological and ethnic affiliations with the Mali rebels could convince them that Libya is a place where they could not only relocate, but make a serious impact.

Is Egypt on the Verge of Civil War?
Posted on 01/30/2013 by Juan Cole

President Muhammad Morsi backed off his decree of emergency law and suspension of civil liberties in the Canal cities of Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia, which have seen vigorous protests against his government since the Jan. 25 two-year anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution.
Morsi left it to the provincial governors of the three cities to decide whether or how to implement the emergency decree, or whether to cancel it. His spokesman said it was not intended to suspend peaceful protests.

Although most Egyptians are indignant at being compared to Algeria, it should be a cautionary tale for Dr. Morsi, as it is for Tunisian Muslim leader Rashid Ghanoushi. In 1992-2002, some 150,000 Algerians died in a vicious civil war between secularists and fundamentalists. The same division is emerging in Egypt, and the secular and moderate-religious forces are increasingly rejecting the legitimacy of Morsi’s rule. Two competing claims to sovereignty are what make for a civil war.
Morsi created this polarization by pushing through a fundamentalist-tinged constitution and by forming a Muslim Brotherhood government that excludes his opposition, even though he did not win the presidency by a very large margin. His tendency to issue sweeping decrees and to favor his Muslim Brotherhood cadres has created a fear that he just wants to be a fundamentalist Hosni Mubarak and does not really have the instincts of a democrat.

Salafist Nour Party, NSF: End the verbal warfare
Ahram Online, Wednesday 30 Jan 2013

Egypt's National Salvation Front (NSF), the main opposition bloc, and the Salafist Nour Party agreed on a unified initiative that aims to end Egypt's ongoing political crisis, following a meeting held in Cairo on Wednesday. The initiative includes eight terms, in which the main condition is to form a unity government that includes the representation of opposition groups.
"The agreement comes, as both sides (NSF and Nour Party) see that Egypt's political situation has escalated to an alarming level, as the initiative's goal is to protect the public interest and end future bloodshed," explained the press statement issued after the meeting.

Main Points: Form a unity government - Form a committee to amend controversial articles in the constitution - Form a consensus between all parties to lead the country, prohibiting the domination of a single faction over political life - Reject all forms of violence or vandalism of public property, and respect the right to peaceful protest and demonstrations - Establish a code of political behaviour agreed upon by all parties to end the verbal warfare between politicians that affects everyone's political image.

"The national interest should be put above all personal interests"

The national interest should be put above all personal interests…the private agendas of political forces should be set aside," said Nour Party Secretary-General Galal Mora, stressing the importance of resolving Egypt’s political impasse via dialogue.
Mora called on Egyptian political parties to give dialogue a chance so as to reach compromises that would yield long-term – rather than temporary – solutions. (Ahram online 28-1-2013)

Al-Azhar unveils initiative to end Egypt's political crisis
Zeinab El Gundy, Ahram online 31 Jan 2013

Egypt's Al-Azhar declared its sponsorship of an initiative aimed at ending Egypt's political crisis and stopping the violence currently taking place in the country.
The initiative was announced following a meeting held at Al-Azhar's Cairo headquarters led by Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayib and attended by representatives of various political parties and Egypt's three churches (Coptic-Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical) – including Coptic Pope Tawadros II – along with Salafist preachers.
The initiative is based on four main points: the sacred character of Egyptian blood; the recognition of diversity as the basis of Egyptian society; calls for media and religious leaders to denounce violence and call for peaceful protests; and the recognition of dialogue as the only way to resolve outstanding differences.

The initiative includes the following points:
* - The right to life is guaranteed by all religions and laws; there is no good to any a nation or society that fails to recognise the sacred character of human life.
*- Distinctions must be drawn between political action and violent criminal action, with an emphasis on the sanctity of public and private property and blood.
*- The condemnation of all calls for violence, defamation of the other, spreading rumours against public figures and entities, and recognition of these actions as ethical crimes.
*- A commitment to peaceful means of engaging in politics and raising Egypt's next generation into a culture of peaceful political discourse.
*- The protection of Egyptian society from sectarian and racist calls, illegal militant groups and illegal foreign intervention.

It was not Al-Azhar's first political initiative. Last year, the famous religious institute presented a similar initiative aimed at resolving the crisis over the drafting of Egypt's new constitution.

Flashback: "That what is sacred in the world is man"
General Mufti of the Syrian Arabic Republic, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun

Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
If we want peace, starting for example with Palestine and Israel, he suggested that rather than building walls, "let us build bridges of peace".
He also argued that "we must create states on a civil basis, not a religious basis", adding "I don't impose my religion on you, nor do you impose your religion on me". (European parlement, 15-1-2008)

Assassinations have become a near-daily occurrence
Nir Rosen, Al-Jazeera 3 Oct 2011

The speech of the grand mufti of Syria
at his son Sarya's funeral

As the Syrian uprising turns more violent, the latest victim in a spate of assassinations is Saria Hassoun, the 22-year-old son of Syria's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun. The shooting occurred outside Ibla University on the Idlib-Aleppo highway. Also killed with Saria Hassoun was Mohammad al-Omar, a professor of History at Aleppo University.

Assassinations have become a near-daily occurrence, especially in the central province of Homs, where academics and officials are targeted in a tactic reminiscent those used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their armed uprising between 1976 and 1982.

Iran’s foreign minister meets Syrian opposition head
Press TV 3-2-2013

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has met with Head of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz al-Khatib in the German city of Munich. Salehi and Khatib held the 45-minute meeting on the sidelines of the 49th annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“We agreed we have to find a solution to end the suffering of the Syrian people,” Khatib said after the talks.
Salehi also met with UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi to discuss the latest developments in the Arab country.
The Iranian foreign minister called for concerted efforts by all countries to help cease the ongoing violence in Syria and prevent the destruction of the country’s infrastructure by the foreign-backed militants. Salehi underscored the importance of national dialog as the best solution for the crisis.

On December 16, Iran unveiled the details of the six-point plan to resolve the ongoing crisis in Syria, which calls for an immediate end to all violent and armed acts. The plan calls for sending humanitarian aid to Syrians following the end of all conflicts, lifting all economic sanctions imposed against the country, and facilitating the return of displaced Syrians to their homes. It also urges talks between the Syrian government and the representatives of all Syrian groups regardless of their political and social tendencies in order to form a national reconciliation committee.

Syria opposition leader meets Russia and Iran

Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib has met the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran for the first time, opening a window to a possible breakthrough in efforts to broker an end to Syria's conflict.
Moscow on Saturday said it wanted to keep in regular contact with the opposition after talks between Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, and Khatib, leader of the National Coalition...
"I reminded Khatib that after the creation of the coalition and the appointment of their leader, we immediately demonstrated our interest in maintaining regular contact," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday.
"We will make that happen," he added.

Khatib on Friday reiterated an earlier surprise announcement that he is ready for dialogue with the Damascus regime - subject to conditions including the release of 160,000 detainees.
Lavrov said Moscow welcomed the initiative, adding: "If we take into account the fact that the coalition was founded on a refusal to engage in a dialogue with the regime, it's a very important step." (maltatoday 3-2-2013)

Moaz al-Khatib: Compassion & Love (14-11-2012)

The Islam that we carry with us is an Islam that builds civilizations and honors human beings, an Islam that embraces Christianity in the most sacred of lands, an Islam that unites people not divides them, an Islam that considers that strength is in diversity not in isolation.... We are demanding freedom for every Sunni and Alawi, every Christian and Druzi, every Ismaili and Suriani. ...
What is present in our country is not only coexistence but true compassion and love for the other. Our work will end, and I say this specifically to our brethrens inside Syria, as soon as free elections are held....
The revolution distances itself from the idea of revenge against anyone...
We as individuals and communities, do not and will not pledge allegiance to any side or cause that is harmful to our people, our unity or our land...

Literati to discus poetry of Iran’s Sadi and Turkey’s Emre
Tehran Times, Culture Desk, 4 February 2013

Tehran’s Book City Institute and Turkey’s Yunus Emre Cultural Center in Tehran have jointly organized the meetings, which will be held in Sadi’s hometown of Shiraz and Tehran, and in Emre’s hometown of Eskisehir and Ankara, Book City Deputy Director Ali-Asghar Mohammadkhani said in a press release on Sunday.
Both Sadi and Emre were influential in their national literature and there are similarities in their words and their places in the Iranian and Turkish societies,” Mohammadkhani said.
Emre (c. 1240–1321) has exercised immense influence on Turkish literature, from his times until the present.

by Turgut Durduran

Mystic is what they call me.
Hate is my only enemy;
I harbor a grudge against none.
To me the whole wide world is one.

Humanism in general is a system of thought which dignifies man in his relation with God, nature and society. The humanist accepts man as the criterion of creation or of mere existence, but the fanatical dogma of many religious groups preaches that man's existence on earth is much lower in significance or value in relation to that of God's.
As in all mystic traditions, Sufis in Islam emerged as the dialectical antithesis to dogmatic interpretations and to religious formalism. As Talat Sait Halman indicates in his writings on Yunus Emre, he stood strictly against Moslem dogmatists in expressing the primary importance of human existence.

Sufism in general has a very humanistic approach to religion. Sufis, like other mystics, are trying to reach God or the ultimate Truth by following a certain path. In doing this, they disregard the dichotomy of the physical world and the divine, or better to say that they get rid of the veils separating them. This also means that as humans, they become God-like through this process which again involves human activity. God is internalized, making man not an outcast but an extension of God's reality and love.

Yunus Emre's humanism is not only a humanism of "peace and brotherhood" but also calls for social justice, charity and many other familiar ideals of today's world.

Turkey slams Israeli airstrike near Syrian capital
Press TV, Feb 4, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the recent Israeli airstrike on a research center near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
“Those who have been treating Israel like a spoilt child should expect anything from them, at any time,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday.
“As I say time and again, Israel has a mentality of waging terrorism. Right now, there is no telling what it might do and where it might do it.”
“We cannot regard a violation of air space as acceptable. What Israel does is completely against international law… it is beyond condemnation,” Erdogan said. “I am worried that in a situation like this, any scenario can play out in the future.”

The Syrian army said in a statement on January 30 that two people were killed and five others injured in an Israeli airstrike on a research center in Jamraya, located 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of Damascus.

Al-Iraqiya: al-Shahristani’s committee work
revealed the size of the injustice done to Baathists
Shafaq News, Iraq 04 February 2013

MP of al- Iraqiya coalition, Haider al-Mulla announced on Monday, that the work of the Ministerial Committee formed to consider the demands of the demonstrators revealed the size of the injustice done to the Baathists.
Mulla said in a statement reported for "Shafaq News" that "the work of the ministerial committee revealed the size of the great injustice done to the sons of the Iraqi people in general and the Baathists in particular over the past years, especially in light of not modifying any of the unjust laws made so far by the parliament”.
It is noted that the Council of Ministers announced earlier forming a ministerial committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani to receive requests for the demonstrators to be studied and the possibility of its implementation.

A number of Iraqi provinces of Sunni majority are witnessing demonstrations and sit-ins since more than a month ago, demanding to release the detainees and women detainees, cancel a number of laws and decisions which they deem that it cause injustice like the Justice and Accountability Law and Article 4 terrorism and others.

Establishment and protection of justice

"He who stands up against injustice, should himself refrain from causing injustice to others, and should remember that speaking of justice will be meaningless if capital is allowed rule beyond its limits or influence the process of decision-making.
Political and legal justice remains meaningless without social and economic justice. The fight against the wolves and the corruptors will not succeed, if they have contacts and partners inside the corridors of government and the palaces of the Sultan.
All of this, in order to be achieved, requires the establishment and protection of justice. Authority must have its sward while power must have its own mind, eyes and good conscience."

Saddam Hoessein,
on the occasion of the 34th anniversay of the 17-30 july revolution

Egypt presidency condemns killing fatwa as 'terrorism'
Ahram Online, 7 Feb 2013

Egypt’s presidential office has condemned the practice of or invitation to political violence...
The released presidential statement comes two days after a cleric from Al-Azhar issued a religious edict – on air – giving the green light to kill opposition leaders Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabbahi.
"Practicing religious violence or threatening to do so has become one of the gravest challenges facing the Arab Spring," the presidential statement said. "Egyptians must join hands to avoid the danger of civil strife and face attempts to spread division."
"Some are promoting and inciting political violence while others who claim to speak in the name of religion are permitting ‘killing’ based on political differences and this is terrorism," read the statement.

The presidency "stresses on its complete rejection of hate speech which attributes itself to religion," calling on all national forces, religious institutions and intellectuals to stand together against "inciting" language, the statement asserted.
Egypt is undergoing a period of political unrest since the second anniversary of the 25 January Revolution when clashes between protesters, rioters and police left over 50 dead – mostly protesters – in the days following the anniversary.

CAIRO (AP) — Security was beefed up around Egypt's opposition leaders on Thursday after several hardline Muslim clerics issued religious edicts calling for them to be killed, raising fears of assassinations similar to that of a Tunisian opposition leader gunned down a day earlier in Tunisia. ...
One well-known TV cleric, Mahmoud Shaaban, said the leaders of the National Salvation Front are "setting Egypt on fire to gain power."
"The verdict against them under God's law is death," he said on a talk show on a TV station connected to the ultraconservative Salafi movement.
He mentioned ElBaradei and another Front leader, Hamdeen Sabahi, saying "they have repeatedly spoken about toppling Morsi." Later in the program, he clarified that the government should carry out the verdict, not private citizens.

Separately, another hardline cleric Wagdi Ghoneim issued a video statement pleading with Morsi to crack down heavily on those outside his palace. He said "the verdict under Shariah for those who seek corruption on earth is to be fought, or crucified, or have their arms or legs cut off or be exiled from earth."
"Strike with an iron fist. Otherwise, the country will be lost at your hand and they'll say it is your fault. They'll say Islam doesn't know how to rule and that it's the Islamists who wrecked the country," he said. He said that if Morsi's government doesn't act, private citizens will.
"We will kill the criminals, the thugs, the thieves and those who give them money and those who help them with words. No mercy with them," Ghoneim shouted.
Top prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim ordered an investigation into Shaaban for his fatwa. (USA Today 7-2-2013)

Hamdeen Sabbahi defies death threats
Ahram Online, 8 Feb 2013

source Opposition figure Hamdeen Sabbahi said on Friday that peaceful protests will continue until the revolution’s goals have been achieved and until retribution for all slain protesters has been achieved. Sabbahi stated that this would take place regardless of death threats against him or other members of opposition umbrella group the National Salvation Front (NSF). ....
Tensions between Islamists and anti-Islamists have been on the rise in the Arab Spring countries in recent months. On Wednesday, Tunisian opposition figure Chokri Belaid, a critic of the Islamist-led Ennahda government, was assasinated by unknown assailants sparking fears of a repeat in Egypt.

Wikipedia Info:

Hamdeen Sabahi (born 5 July 1954) is the leader of the Dignity Party and a co-leader of the National Salvation Front.
An opposition leader during the Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak eras, Sabahi was jailed 17 times during their presidencies for political dissidence. He was an immediate supporter and participant of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Sabahi entered the 2012 Egyptian presidential race in which he finished third place with 21.5% of the vote trailing the second place winner Ahmed Shafiq by a margin of 700,000 votes.
Alongside Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, Sabahi leads Egypt's liberal opposition against the Islamist government of President Mohamed Morsi.
A well known opposition figure, Sabahi ascribes to Nasserism and in 1996 he founded the Nasserist Karama (Dignity) Party. Sabahi ran as an independent and not as the Dignity Party's candidate. One of the few secular figures without any ties to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Sabahi has attracted the support of several leading Nasserists. Sabahi is running under the slogan "one of us" which highlights his strong ties with the working class and advocates his socialist aspirations. Sabahi also gained the support of prominent Egyptian figures including writer and political activist Alaa Al Aswany and director and film-writer Khaled Youssef.

* "Egypt must remain at the core of the Arab nation. This is its identity and destiny ... the revival of Egypt is not a matter of ideology alone. We have to have a vision for revival. And my vision leans heavily on the experience of Abdel-Nasser."(Al-Ahram, April 2012)
* "I have opposed both Sadat and Mubarak and criticised their policies. Under Sadat and Mubarak, Egypt abandoned its leading role in the Arab world to become a party to the US-Zionist vision for the region. We went from being a country that sides with the poor and stands for social justice to one that believes in open-door policies."(Al-Ahram, April 2012)

Mikdad: "Hoping that the new State Secretary John Kerry
will change the destructive Middle East policy..."
Syrian Arab News Agency, Feb 10, 2013

Assad-Kerry-2009 DAMASCUS, (SANA) – In an interview with al-Mayadin TV channel on Saturday, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad said that all sides are invited to participate in national dialogue and that there are no preconditions for participation, but it's very important that participants abandon weapons and come with goon intents.
He stressed that there isn't a premade agenda or restrictions on any of the matters to be discussed in the preliminary stage and that all issues are specified by participants who should find dialogue mechanisms in order to reach a national charter that includes all elements that are agreed upon unanimously.
Mikdad pointed out that there are basic principles that everyone should believe in which are rejecting military intervention in Syria, preserving the unity of Syria's land and people, adopting democratic principles in administration, and respecting human rights, laws and political and media pluralism.
Mikdad pointed out that President Bashar al-Assad is the elected president of Syria and that he's entrusted with the unity of its land and people, which is why he should preside upon the resolution of the crisis and supervise it.

Mikdad said that Syria isn't embarrassed by any initiative; rather others are embarrassed, stressing that dialogue is open to all those who want to end the crisis and bloodshed...
He pointed out that the bets by some sides who interfere in Syria's affairs have reached a dead-end, which is why they're reverting to the political solution proposed by the Syrian government, noting that the Syrian government has always supported the political solution exclusively. ...
Mikdad said that Syria's real friends want to resolve the crisis in it through national dialogue among Syrians without any foreign interference, and that these friends are working to prevent other countries from creating a state of instability in Syria...
The Deputy Foreign Minister said that western countries and their allies gave all they could to terrorists in Syria and held meetings to destroy it and return it to the colonialist era...

Mikdad concluded by hoping that the US administration's policy will be removed from the advice given by former US officials to provide weapons to the opposition, and that the new State Secretary John Kerry will change the destructive Middle East policy...

Kerry a Frequent Visitor with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad
By Daniel Harper, Dec 21, 2012

Assad-Kerry-2009 John Kerry has made frequent visits to Bashar al-Assad. ... In February 2009, Kerry led a delegation there to engage Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told visiting US members of Congress that the United States should ‘move away from a policy based on dictating decisions.’ AFP followed up with this report after the visit stating that Kerry believes "Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region":

“President Barack Obama's administration considers Syria a key player in Washington's efforts to revive the stalled Middle East peace process, US Senator John Kerry said in Damascus...
‘Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region,’ Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a speech after meeting President Bashar al-Assad.
‘Both the United States and Syria have a very deep interest... in having a very frank exchange on any differences (and) agreements that we have about the possibilities of peace in this region,’ he said in the statement.”

Muslim Brotherhood nominates senior leader
for grand mufti post - Egypt Independent, 10/02/2013

The Muslim Brotherhood has nominated one of its senior leaders for the influential position of grand mufti, the nation's top cleric, defying critics who accuse the Islamist group of seeking to dominate all institutions.
The mufti is empowered to issue opinions, or fatwas, on any matter, influencing legislation on social and cultural issues, public behavior and court rulings.
The leading candidate is Abdel Rahman al-Barr, 50, a member of the Brotherhood's decision-making Supreme Guidance Council who was jailed under Mubarak and helped draft a new constitution adopted in December that expanded Islamic oversight.
"Barr is the most likely choice as it reflects the change the scholars' panel has undergone since Mursi came to power as about 70 percent of its members are either Brotherhood or [hardline] Salafis," political scientist Mostafa al-Sayed said.

Muslim Brotherhood's Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Barr:
"The principle of separating politics and religion
is not acceptable 'under any circumstances'."
By Abdul Sattar Hatita, sharq Al-Awsat Interview 29/01/2013

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you follow the satellite channels that criticize the Muslim Brotherhood organization?

[Al-Barr] Naturally I follow up everything that takes place in Egypt, especially in the media outlets...
It is natural that we learn from constructive criticism, whatever its source, in order to rectify what must be rectified and to do our best to explain what has been misunderstood or distorted so that the nation can know us, and see our course. As for the nonsensical criticism, I disregard this, and I feel pity for some of those who resort to it...

[Asharq Al-Awsat] In the light of the spread of contradictory fatwas via satellite channels and the Internet—or what some term the fatwa chaos—what are the legitimate mechanisms for issuing fatwas, in your opinion?

[Al-Barr] The controls of issuing fatwas are listed in the jurisprudence books. The most prominent of these controls is: No one should issue a fatwa except a scholar...
I believe that it is better for fatwas not to be issued directly on air; rather the subject ought to be submitted to the scholar in question to study it well, prepare his reply, and then present his fatwa after a full study.
I consider that the authorities concerned ought to train the Sheikhs, Imams, and preachers to give fatwas, and there is no harm in giving fatwa licenses to those who pass the specialized training course.... All of this concerns fatwas to individuals on issues that the people need in their day-to-day worship, work, and affairs.
As for the major public issues, and the fatwas related to public affairs, state affairs, new scientific issues, new and modern financial dealings, and such issues required by society as a whole, I am of the view that the issuing of such fatwas ought to be undertaken by major religious institutions, and well-known councils.
I believe that specialized religious knowledge seminars and conferences ought to convene over these issues... The satellite channels muftis should therefore not issue fatwas in this field so long as they have not gained knowledge of the results of such studies and understood all the details.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some people are of the view that over the past years the Muslim Brotherhood has become more interested in the political aspect at the expense of the Islamic Dawa (call) aspect. What do you think?

[Al-Barr] There have always been some people who make such claims. I think that this claim stems from some people not understanding the call of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the call for Islam in a comprehensive way that organizes all the issues of life, and gives fatwas on every issue. The martyred Imam Hassan al-Banna, God have mercy on his soul, stated that the Muslim Brotherhood call is a Salafi call, the Sunni way, and a Sufi truth, in addition to simultaneously being a political institution, an economic company, a charity organization, and even a sports institution.

In the same manner that the Muslim Brotherhood has established a political party, it has a department for spreading Islamic Dawa, which I personally supervise. ...
Moreover, we consider political work to be one of the aspects of Islamic Dawa. Through political work we present a political model that conveys the values and principles of Islam to the arena of politics and public life...

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are there any boundaries that separate the Islamic Dawa aspect of the Muslim Brotherhood and the political aspect?

[Al-Barr] The group practices Islamic Dawa and politics, and does not see any contradictions between them. The group considers political work as part of Islamic Dawa aimed at showing the advantages of the Islamic course, and its distinguished status in the field of government and politics.
Our primary mission is to present comprehensive Islam as a civilized model that cares for man in all aspects of his life. The existence of departments and specialties in the fields of work within the group is not in order to separate between what is described as political, and what is described as Islamic Dawa related, but it is in order to carry out the mission and master each of them. We do not accept separation between religion and politics under any circumstances whatsoever.

Al-Barr: "We cannot accept any article that violates Sharia"
Ikhwan (MB) Web, November 7, 2012

Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Barr, member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and also member of the Constituent Assembly (CA), affirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision with regard to Sharia (Islamic Law) has always been very clear, even before the revolution, and that Sharia is the most important determinant of Egyptian personality and identity.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Mubasher (Live)-Egypt satellite TV channel, Al-Barr explained that the Muslim Brotherhood has been defending Sharia since the day it was founded, and paid a heavy price for it – with its brave men thrown in jails and hung on the gallows. He stressed that Sharia is the most favorable and appropriate law framework for the people, and the only one capable of taking the homeland forward onto the road of progress in all fields.

"Sharia, from the Muslim Brotherhood’s point of view, is a comprehensive way of life that regulates and organizes the life of the individual, the community and the nation as well as all institutional relationships in the domestic arena and state relationships with other states in the international arena. "Sharia is not only an article in the Constitution, it is the spirit that pervades the whole national charter. We, therefore, cannot accept any article that violates Sharia in any way at all..."

Egypt's new grand mufti
Ahram online, 11 Feb 2013

Three finalists were chosen on Monday in a closed session held by senior members of the Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority. There was then a vote by members of the authority. The authority was headed by Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, in addition to Gomaa and Qatar-based Islamic scholar Youssef El-Qaradawi.

The list of nominees for the post sparked controversy when it appeared that a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau, Abdel Rahman El-Bar, had intended to nominate himself for the role. It later seemed he had not.

On 21 February 2011, Yusuf al Qaradawi talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi: "...To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftî): Do it!
That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b) and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!" WIKIPEDIA info

Shawky Abdel Karim nominated
Ahmed Aboul Enein, Daily News Egypt, 11-2-2013

Shawky Abdel Karim received the most votes in Al-Azhar’s elections for the new Grand Mufti. Abdel Karim is the chairman of the Department of Jurisprudence at the School of Sharia at Al-Azhar University’s Tanta branch.
Al-Azhar’s Association of Senior Scholars headed by Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb selected three candidates for the post of Grand Mufti to replace the outgoing Ali Gomaa in a Monday meeting. Attia Al-Sayed Fayyad, a professor of comparative jurisprudence and Farahat Abdel Aati Saad, a professor of jurisprudence, both at Al-Azhar’s School of Sharia in Cairo, came second and third, respectively.

Moderate agenda & psychological and moral suitability

“This is big vote of trust in me and I hope to God that I will be up to the task,” Allam told Reuters. He declined to discuss his views until the president makes the appointment.
A panel of Islamic scholars took the decision after “detailed study of the applicants based on scientific legal standards, the adoption of al-Azhar's moderate agenda and an estimation of their psychological and moral suitability”, the official statement said.

Freedom of Religion in Islam: a Tough Sell?
Ali Gomaa - Grand Mufti of Egypt - 2013

In our world today where the issue of racial and religious profiling of people is skyrocketing, there is an urgent need to revisit the Prophet’s attitude with the non Muslims who were residing in the city of Medinah. The uproaring voices of extremism which call for the killing of non Muslims or approve of confiscating their properties and jeopardizing their safety is nothing but a mere aberration of the teachings of Islam both in letter and spirit.

The covenant of Medinah speaks volumes of the nature of the relationship between Muslims and non Muslims who were co-citizens in the city of Medinah. In the newly born state of Medinah, non Muslims enjoyed freedom of religious belief and religious independence; a fact which was emphatically highlighted in the Covenant of Medinah which was ratified and signed by both Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the people of Medinah who happened to be from different religious affiliations and ethnic backgrounds.
Having a closer look at the Covenant of Medinah, we find that the legal framework in dealing with different religious sects was based on the principles of justice, equality and respecting the other party.

The Prophet in his dealings with the non Muslims in the city of Medinah based his treatment on the principles of mercy, tolerance and justice with no discrimination against non Muslims as they are all at equal footing in terms of citizenship and loyalty to their country.
“God does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” 60:8
This is a general ruling which applies to people of all religions and ethnicities and the emphasis is even greater if these people are partners in citizenship and brothers in nationality who all stand in the defense line in the face of the enemy to protect the country against any assaults.

President al-Assad: Sides Targeting Syria
Worked Methodicallyto Destroy Country's Infrastructure
Syrian Arab News Agency Feb 12, 2013

DAMASCUS, (SANA) – President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday chaired a Cabinet meeting after the new Ministers were sworn in before President al-Assad in the presence of Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halqi and the rest of the Ministers.
During the meeting, President al-Assad said that the current circumstances in Syria caused citizens to have greater hopes in terms of what they expect of the government, which gives the ministries and state establishments an extra responsibility that must be transformed into positive work energy in order to achieve all that could be achieved of citizens' hopes and relieve them.
President al-Assad affirmed that the sides targeting Syria worked methodically to destroy the country's infrastructure, and in that they target the Syrian people first and foremost and attempt to destroy the mental structure of citizens, which requires everyone great efforts to confront.

Sanctions and International law

Charter of Economic rights & Duties of States, UN General Assembly, 1974: No state may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another state in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind.

Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Convention, 1977, Part IV, Section 1, Chapter III, Article 54: (1) starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. (2) It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for an other motive.

UN General Assembly Resolution 44/215, December 22, 1989. Calls upon the developed countries to refrain from exercising political coercion through the application of economic instruments with the purpose of inducing changes in the economic or social systems, as well as in the domestic or foreign policies of other countries.

International Conference on Nutrition, World Declaration on Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization, 1992: We recognize that access to nutritionally adequate and safe food is a right of each individual. We affirm that food must not be used as a tool of political pressure.

UN General Assembly, December 1997: "starvation of civilians is unlawful".

International Terrorism as defined by the U.S. legal code (Title 18-2331): ... to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion...

(compiled by Larry Kerschner)

Where Were YOU On February 15, 2003
By Mike Ferner, 12-2-2013

On that day, for the first time in human history, people of every nation on earth said “NO” to a war before it began.
By the 10's of millions, starting in New Zealand and Australia and sweeping westward over the globe for 24 hours, people poured into streets and public places to shout with one voice, “NO WAR ON IRAQ!”
In the face of this overwhelming, universal cry for peace, the US and UK repeatedly lied and invaded Iraq, which says all that needs saying about the supposed “democracies” we live in.
If you were part of that earth-shaking cry for peace, you can remember the exquisite, breathtaking feeling of being part of something our species had never done before.

Iraq at the Brink: A Decade after the Invasion
by Ramzy Baroud, Foreign Policy Journal 14-2-2013

The sectarian strife in Iraq [..] is making a comeback. Iraqi Sunnis, including major tribes and political parties are demanding equality and the end of their disfranchisement in the relatively new, skewed Iraqi political system under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Massive protests and ongoing strikes have been organized with a unified and clear political message. However, numerous other parties are exploiting the polarization in every way imaginable: to settle old scores, to push the country back to the brink of civil war, to amplify the mayhem underway in various Arab countries, most notably Syria, and in some instances to adjust sectarian boundaries in ways that could create good business opportunities. ...
The future of Iraq is currently being determined by various forces and almost none of them are composed of Iraqi nationals with a uniting vision. Caught between bitter sectarianism, extremism, the power-hungry, wealth amassing elites, regional power players, western interests and a very violent war legacy, the Iraqi people are suffering beyond the ability of sheer political analyses or statistics to capture their anguish. The proud nation of impressive human potential and remarkable economic prospects has been torn to shreds.

UK-based Iraqi writer Hussein Al-alak wrote on the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion with a tribute to the country’s ‘silent victims,’ the children. According to Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, he reported, there is an estimated 4.5 million children who are now orphans, with a “shocking 70 percent” of them having lost their parents since the 2003 invasion.
“From that total number, around 600,000 children are living on the streets, without either shelter or food to survive,” Al-alak wrote. Those living in the few state-run orphanages “are currently lacking in their most essential needs.”