Archive for the ‘ Global Oligarchy ’ Category

Assad supporters storm US embassy in Syria

2011-07-11

US official says embassy has sustained some physical damage, mob has then moved on to ambassador’s residence.

DAMASCUS – An angry mob stormed the US embassy in the Syrian capital on Monday, after Washington’s ambassador visited the flashpoint city of Hama, a hub for protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“Today there was an attack by a mob on the US embassy,” a US embassy official said, adding that no embassy personnel were injured although the Syrian authorities were slow in providing additional security measures.

The official said the embassy sustained some physical damage and that the crowd then moved on to the ambassador’s residence.

Opposition protests were also staged overnight in several towns against Sunday’s opening of a “national dialogue” hailed by the regime but boycotted by the opposition, rights activists said.

Monday’s embassy attack comes four days after US Ambassador Robert Ford visited the central city of Hama, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Damascus, sparking outrage in the capital.

The embassy official said “no staff were injured” on Monday and were never in “imminent danger,” although the “Syrian government was slow to respond with extra security measures that were needed.”

“The Syrian government has assured us that it will provide the protection required under the Vienna Convention and we expect it to do so.”

He added that a Syrian television channel had “encouraged this violent demonstration,” which followed protests at the embassy on Friday and Saturday calling for the ambassador’s resignation.

A senior US official on Sunday accused Damascus of orchestrating the protests over Ford’s trip to Hama, which the authorities slammed as a “flagrant interference” in Syria’s “domestic affairs.”

Ford and his French counterpart Eric Chevallier both visited Hama on Thursday amid fears of a bloody crackdown after Friday prayers the next day by Assad’s forces, with tanks encircling the city.

France on Sunday summoned Syria’s envoy to Paris Lamia Shakkour over damage done to the French embassy in Damascus and a consulate in Aleppo on Saturday after Chevallier’s trip to Hama.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe’s cabinet chief called her to the foreign ministry to receive a “vigorous protest”, ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.

Tensions have been escalating for months between Damascus and Washington over the Syrian government’s fierce response to opposition protests that erupted in mid-March, seeking to oust Assad.

Human rights groups say that since the protests broke out, the security forces have killed more than 1,300 civilians and made at least 12,000 arrests.

In overnight protests, some 5,000 people demonstrated in Deir Ezzor in the east, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Monday, adding there were also protests in three districts of Damascus.

The army was also reported to be continuing a search and sweep operation in the Jebel al-Zawiya area of Idlib province in the northwest.

“Soldiers supported by tanks carried out searches in the villages of Kafarhaya, Sarjan and Al-Rami, and arrests were made in Kfar Nubol,” the Observatory said.

People were also detained in Hama and in the coastal city of Banias, where the rights group reported five arrests of people “for filming demonstrations.”

Shooting was also heard at around dawn in the central city of Homs.

A meeting of the “national dialogue” in the capital was due to take place later on Monday.

Sunday’s inaugural session saw some 200 delegates take part, including independent MPs and members of the Baath party, in power since 1963.

Opposition figures boycotted the gathering in protest at the government’s continued deadly crackdown on the anti-regime protests.

Meanwhile, the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey fell to around 8,500 as hundreds decided to return home over the weekend, Turkish officials in Ankara said on Monday.

The number of refugees fleeing the government crackdown and entering Turkey peaked at 11,739 at the end of June, when Syrian troops stormed border villages where many displaced people had massed.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=47149.

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Gaza group rejects U.S. terror classification decision

GAZA, May 20 (Xinhua) — A Gaza-based extremist group on Friday rejected a recent U.S. decision that labeled it a foreign terrorist group.

“We completely reject this decision and consider it unfair,” said a spokesman for the Army of Islam, calling himself Abu Al- Abbas. “This American decision only aims at harming Islam,” he said.

The U.S. State Department said the group was responsible for kidnapping Americans, Britons, New Zealanders over the past few years in the Gaza Strip. It noted the group, comprising former members of various Palestinian groups, threatened the security of Israel and Egypt.

The al-Qaida-inspired group appeared in 2006, when it joined the Islamic Hamas movement in capturing an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid near Gaza. A year later, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force. The State Department did not mention anything about the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit.

Abu Al-Abbas said his people did not use Arab lands near Gaza in their attacks on Israel. Earlier this year, Egypt, then in the final days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, accused the Army of Islam of being responsible for a deadly attack at an Alexandria church on the eve of the New Year.

A Brussels-based conflict and politics research organization, the International Crisis Group, said recently that ties between Hamas and Jihadist groups in Gaza have shifted from cooperation to confrontation.

The first confrontation was in 2009 when one of these pro-Qaida groups defied Hamas’ rule and declared an Islamic emirate in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Hamas crushed the group after hours of deadly clashes.

In April, Hamas also killed two members of a similar group after they captured and killed a pro-Palestinian Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, also in Gaza.

Source: Xinhua.
Link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-05/20/c_13886076.htm.

Kuwait elected to U.N. rights panel instead of Syria

By Patrick Worsnip
Fri May 20, 2011

(Reuters) – Kuwait was among 15 nations elected on Friday to the U.N. Human Rights Council after Syria, under pressure over its crackdown on protesters, dropped its bid for an Arab slot on the controversial panel.

Kuwait stepped into the race last week after Western countries persuaded Arab states that Syria was not a suitable candidate. In a General Assembly vote, the Gulf emirate was elected along with India, Indonesia and the Philippines on a clean, or uncontested, slate of Asian nations for three-year council terms.

Africa and Western Europe also presented clean slates but there were contested votes for Eastern Europe — where the Czech Republic and Romania defeated Georgia — and Latin America, where Chile and Costa Rica edged out Nicaragua.

The 47-nation Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, is the main U.N. body charged with monitoring member states’ compliance with international rights norms.

Critics say it spends too much time denouncing Israel while ignoring violations by Sri Lanka, Bahrain, China, Russia and other countries. Libya, elected to the council last year, is suspended because of its civil war.

Syria told a closed meeting of Asian U.N. members on May 11 it had agreed to swap candidacies with Kuwait, which was set to run for the council in 2013, and drop out of the 2011 race, diplomats said.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari denied at the time that the decision was connected with events in his country, where troops and tanks have killed hundreds of anti-government demonstrators in recent weeks.

He said the move was based on “reconsidering our priorities” and Syria would run for the council in 2013.

SYRIA RECEIVED VOTES

Even though Syria was not standing up for membership, five of the 192 countries in the General Assembly voted for it on Friday, assembly president Joseph Deiss said in announcing the results. Because the ballot was secret it was unclear who they were.

Elected for the so-called “Western European and others” group were Austria and Italy, while Burkina Faso, Botswana, the Congo Republic and Benin were elected for Africa.

Human rights groups have hailed the fact that Syria will not be elected this year but, as they have done in past years, criticized the clean slate system under which regional groups present only as many candidates as seats are available.

“Without competition for seats on the Human Rights Council, the membership standards set by the General Assembly become meaningless,” said Peggy Hicks of New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Manufactured slates of candidates may be easier for states, but they are bad for the council.”

Geneva-based group UN Watch said Kuwait and Congo were “not qualified” to be on the council.

Kuwait’s “ruling family largely sets the policy agenda and dominates political life. Formal political parties are banned,” it said, adding that the country limits freedom of the press and assembly and has no independent judiciary.

In Congo, the group said, recent elections were “marred by irregularities,” press freedom was limited and the judiciary was subject to corruption and political influence.

The defeat of Nicaragua was a setback for left-wing governments in the Latin America group, which also includes Caribbean states.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

Source: Reuters.
Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/20/us-rights-un-council-idUSTRE74J5IO20110520.

Flotilla group calls for UN escort, a ‘stunt’ says Israel

Thursday, May 19, 2011
FADIL ALİRIZA
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

As a new aid convoy to Gaza readies to sail at the end of June, organizers say they are willing to have their cargo inspected and their ships escorted by international observers. Israel dismisses the move as a ‘publicity stunt,’ while supporters of the flotilla in the EU have questioned the legal necessity of such an escort.

Organizers of the Turkish branch of the aid flotilla set to leave for Gaza at the end of June have said they are willing to have their cargo inspected and their ships escorted by international observers.

Israel, however, has dismissed the move as a “publicity stunt,” while supporters of the flotilla in the European Union have questioned the legal necessity of such an escort.

“We are ready to talk with everybody. Already we have started these kinds of visits for the European Parliament, for the United Nations to make some solution,” Hüseyin Oruç, an administrative board member of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview Tuesday.

“All these boats can be checked by the U.N., or the European Parliament’s commissions. We are ready to show all the details of our preparation,” he said. “They can check [the boats] in the ports, they can check on international waters, they can guide us, they can guide the distribution of all items in Gaza. It’s open to all international mediators.”

An Israeli official dismissed the proposal as a “publicity stunt,” saying that Israel is always willing to accept, process and transmit Gaza-bound aid.

“That obviously won’t happen,” an Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Daily News. “All the international players, [U.N. chief] Ban Ki-moon, [EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs] Catherine Ashton have all called the move provocative.”

The İHH is organizing the Mavi Marmara and an additional cargo ship as the Turkish part of what will be a 15-boat aid flotilla. On its voyage to Gaza last year, the Mavi Marmara was attacked by Israeli forces who boarded the ship and killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American onboard.

Last week, a group of American congressional representatives sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asking him to discourage the flotilla from “provoking a confrontation” with Israel in a bid to “save lives.” The Turkish government’s response so far has been that the letter was incorrectly directed to them, as the flotilla is being organized by civilian, nongovernmental organizations that the government does not control.

The İHH, responding to the letter, echoed the Turkish government response, saying that the group had no contact with the Turkish government, but added that Israel was in fact the party that the U.S. Congress needed to address to avoid another crisis.

“Also we are asking all these congresspeople, if you are looking for the solution, don’t ask the prime minister of Turkey. Why are you not asking the Prime Minister of Israel? They need to talk with [Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Oruç said.

Regarding the possibility of an EU parliamentary commission escorting the flotilla, a spokesman for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, the party with the second largest representation in the EU Parliament, said the party has been supportive of the flotilla, but had not seen any proposal regarding a European escort.

“I question the necessity” of an international escort for the ship, said Tony Robinson, head of press and communications for the alliance.

International participation

This year the Mavi Marmara will have 500 people onboard, 400 of whom will be of nationalities other than Turkish, Oruç said. The remaining 100 will be Turks, of whom 50 will be journalists.

“On the first [Mavi Marmara aid trip] there were 38 nationalities; on the second flotilla it will be more coverage. About 100 nationalities will be on the boat. Only a very limited number of Turkish people will be on the Mavi Marmara,” Oruç told the Daily News.

Those on the ship will be mostly from the media and “representatives of societies” and local communities, he said.

The İHH has also sent two aid flotillas to Libya in recent weeks, one to Misrata, besieged by Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, and one to rebel-held Benghazi.

According to Oruç, “all international forces” involved in NATO operations in Libya supported the İHH flotilla to these besieged cities – something he said indicated a double standard imposed on the İHH in its attempt to distribute aid.

“Gaza people have the same right as Misrata people,” Oruç said.

The İHH was scheduled to address members of the media at a press conference Friday morning.

Source: Hürriyet.
Link: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=gaza-flotilla-seeks-un-escort-as-israel-dismisses-move-as-8216stunt8217-2011-05-19.

Hezbollah Chief Says Hariri Court Has Ties with Western Intelligence Agencies

2011-07-03

The leader of Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah on Saturday described as “unjust” accusations traded against four members of his party of involvement in the assassination on Lebanese Sunni former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, adding that a prominent CIA agent was part of the team of investigators looking into the 2005 killing.

In his first reaction to the indictment, Hassan Nasrallah said the accusations will not stir Sunni-Shiite tension or another civil war in Lebanon.

“I tell the Lebanese…there is nothing to worry about,” he said in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said it would be impossible to arrest the alleged suspects, “not in 30 days nor in 30 years.”

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the Hariri assassination, submitted to the Lebanese authorities this week a sealed indictment. Judicial leaks said the indictment named four Hezbollah members, confirming earlier reports that the U.N.- backed court was bracing to point the finger at members of the powerful Lebanese group.

“This court is politicized and serves a specific purpose, which is to deal a blow to resistance movements against Israel,” said the Hezbollah secretary general, reiterating that the STL was an American-Israeli project.

“We are not concerned with this court or anything that comes out from it,” said Nasrallah, “We will not allow this court to drag Lebanon into civil strife.”

Nasrallah revealed that one of the advisers to STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare was a top CIA agent that was tasked with tracking Hezbollah’s slain top military commander Imad Mughniyeh.

Nasrallah also described investigators looking into the Hariri assassination and some of the STL staff as “biased and corrupted.”

Nasrallah also showed footage of Gerhard Lehmann, top investigator in the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) to inspect the Hariri assassination, receiving a sum of money for information on the investigation he divulged.

The black-turbaned cleric questioned the reason why the UNIIIC shipped 97 computers to The Hague from Israel rather than regular routes such as the Lebanese port and airport. He also showed a voucher issued from the Israeli Customs to that effect.

Source: CRIEnglish.
Link: http://english.cri.cn/6966/2011/07/03/2724s646004.htm.

Greece arrests Gaza-bound boat captain

Sunday, July 3, 2011

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities have arrested the captain of a boat that is part of a Gaza-bound flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, officials said.

The 60-year-old captain, John Klusmire, was being held at Piraeus police headquarters and will remain there until a court hearing Tuesday.

“The conditions of his detention are terrible,” vessel spokeswoman Jane Hirschmann told The Associated Press on Saturday. “There is no bed. He is sitting on a bench.” Police weren’t immediately available for comment.

Greece’s coast guard said Klusmire, captain of “The Audacity of Hope,” faces charges of trying to leave port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat’s passengers. The latter charge is a felony.

The boat was carrying 36 passengers, four crew and about 10 members of the media. Its attempt to sail Friday night from the port of Perama, near Athens, was thwarted by coast guard speedboats. On the same day, Greece had announced it was banning vessels heading to Gaza from leaving Greek ports.

The “Audacity of Hope” has been moored at a Greek naval station. Its crew of four, two British and two American citizens, was forbidden to leave the boat. The British Embassy intervened and while they were then allowed to leave the boat, the crew and the passengers chose to stay on board, Hirschmann said.

“Where is the American embassy in all this?” she said, adding that U.S. authorities had not responded to passengers’ calls for assistance. The U.S. Embassy wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In Jerusalem, Israel has denied claims it sabotaged ships trying to breach its sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Activists have accused Israel of damaging two ships docked in Turkey and Greece that were part of a flotilla attempting to reach the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the sabotage charges as “ridiculous,” calling them “sad conspiracy theories.”

Selcuk Unal, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said authorities had determined that there was no act of sabotage on an Irish vessel in the flotilla that docked in the Turkish port of Gocek on the Aegean Sea.

Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to stop weapons reaching the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza. Activists describe the blockade as a form of incarceration for the Palestinians.

Nine activists on a Turkish boat were killed last year in an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla.

In a statement, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia — said it remained concerned about the difficult conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza, but noted “a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials” entering Gaza over the last year.

It urged those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza to do so through “established channels,” which include Israeli and Egyptian crossings.

The Quartet “urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation,” the statement said.

Christopher Torchia in Athens, Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Greece bars boats leaving Greek ports for Gaza

By ELENA BECATOROS | AP
Jul 1, 2011

ATHENS: Greece on Friday banned ships heading to the Gaza Strip from leaving Greek ports, and a vessel carrying several dozen Americans which left port without permission was asked to return.

A flotilla of nine Greek and foreign-flagged vessels and several hundred activists have said they want to break Israel’s sea blockade and deliver aid to the Palestinian territory.

Greece’s Civil Protection Ministry said coast guard authorities had been ordered to take “all appropriate measures” to implement the ban. It also said the “broader maritime area of the eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating” in the flotilla.

Witnesses said one of the boats, dubbed the Audacity of Freedom and carrying several dozen Americans, had left port Friday afternoon. Activists said on their Twitter feed that they had been intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard.

A Greek government official said the boat had set sail without the permission required of all boats to leave port, and that the Coast Guard had asked it to return. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation was still evolving.

Israel has said it will thwart any effort to breach the sea blockade of Gaza, which was imposed on the Palestinian territory after Hamas overran it in 2007.

An Israeli raid on a similar flotilla last year killed nine activists on a Turkish ship and each side blamed the other for the violence.

On Thursday, an Irish ship, the MV Saoirse at the Turkish coastal town of Gocek, said it had to abandon plans to set sail because of what it called Israeli sabotage. Earlier this week, activists said Israeli agents damaged the propeller of a Swedish ship in the Greek port. Israel has refused AP requests for comment on the allegations.

Source: Arab News.
Link: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article465124.ece.

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