Palestine | Iraq | Afghanistan | Egypt | Media

Jason Burke: Gaza homes ‘uninhabitable’ as tens of thousands come back to rubble (Guardian)

Previous estimates of 65,000 rendered homeless in Gaza now look conservative. In Beit Hanoun alone, around 30,000 people will have to be rehoused. The town is just one of around a dozen communities lying in the three kilometre “free fire zone” declared by Israeli troops during the most intense period of fighting to have been devastated…
On Monday, the United Nations called the level of destruction “unprecedented.”

Amy Goodman: Ilan Pappé: Israel Has Chosen to be a “Racist Apartheid State” with U.S. Support (Democracy Now)
Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians (Human Rights Watch)
Mounting evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army (Amnesty International)
Russ Greenleaf: Make no mistake, Israel is targeting citizens in Gaza (Courier-Journal)

When John Kerry said, “some pinpoint operation,” he was asking the obvious question: Why is it that over half the people Israel has killed in Gaza are women and children? More than 150 children. If Israel is trying to avoid hitting civilians, why are over 70 percent of the casualties civilians?

Ben Hubbard, Jodi Rudorenaug: Questions of Weapons and Warnings in Past Barrage on a Gaza Shelter (New York Times)
Geoff Earle: Netanyahu asks US to help Israel avoid war crime charges (New York Post)
Glenn Greenwald: Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza (Intercept)
Glenn Greenwald: Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment Is Grotesque but Not Original (Intercept)
Desmond Tutu: My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine (Haaretz)

Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.
Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.
Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings…
Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free.
He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.

Amira Hass: A European green light to kill, destroy and pulverize Gaza (Haaretz)

In its ongoing silence, official Germany is collaborating with Israel on its journey of destruction and death, waged against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Germany isn’t alone – Austria’s silence is also deafening.
Actually, why single out these two countries? On the second or third day of the war, Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t the only one to declare that she stood beside Israel. The entire European Union supported Israel and its right “to defend itself.”
Yes, France and Britain did some squirming last week, making a few feeble sounds of protest. But the EU’s original stance, stated on July 22, still resounds. It accused the side under prolonged Israeli siege of causing the escalation. This is the side that, despite all the European declarations on its right to self-determination and an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, is still under Israeli occupation after 47 years.
EU member states and, obviously, the United States, gave Israel a green light to kill, destroy and pulverize. They placed the brunt of the blame on the people launching the rockets, the Palestinians. The rockets are disrupting the “order” and the “quiet,” endangering the security of Israel, which is so weak and vulnerable, always attacked for no reason whatsoever.

Rainer Rupp: Genozidplanspiele (junge Welt)

Pepe Escobar: Why Obama is bombing the Caliph (RT)

Obama’s bombing of the Caliph’s goons has absolutely nothing to do with US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s much beloved R2P (‘responsibility to protect’) doctrine – as in the responsibility to protect up to 150,000 Yazidis, not to mention Kurds and remaining Christians, from a ‘potential’ genocide carried out by the Caliph’s goons…
The Caliph’s goons were dead set on conquering Irbil – the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is led by the wily Massoud Barzani – a long-time US client/vassal.
The US maintains a consulate in Irbil. Crammed with CIA types. Or, as the New York Times so lovingly puts it, “thousands of Americans.”

Afghanistan: No justice for thousands of civilians killed in US/NATO operations (Amnesty International)

“Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.
“None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Patrick Kingsley: Egypt massacre was premeditated, says Human Rights Watch (Guardian)

Egyptian security forces intentionally killed at least 817 protesters during last August’s Rabaa massacre, in a premeditated attack equal to or worse than China’s Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has argued in a report…
The report recommends that several senior individuals within Egypt’s security apparatus be investigated and, where appropriate, held to account for their role in the planning of both the Rabaa massacre and others that occurred last summer – including Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt’s then defence minister and new president. As head of the army at the time, Sisi had overall responsibility for the army’s role at Rabaa, and has publicly acknowledged spending “very many long days to discuss all the details”.

Lisa O’Carroll: Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media (Guardian)

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider…
The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

Should we laugh or cry? Since Obama said “We did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks”, the New York Times decided to call torture torture. I guess the New York Times paid special attention to what Obama said right after that: “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.” Remember that Obama also said that after taking office, he only banned “some” of torture techniques.
Alan Yuhas: New York Times to use the word ‘torture’ when describing torture (Guardian)

Under pressure from reporters and editors, the New York Times’ leadership has decided to use the word “torture” with regard to the CIA’s treatment of prisoners in the years following September 11.
Executive editor Dean Baquet published a statement on Thursday announcing the change in style, explaining that since we now know many more details of the CIA’s methods over the past decade – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and caging prisoners in a box – the “plain-English” meaning of “torture” now outweighs the “specialized legal meaning” of the word.

Ukraine | Egypt | Colombia | Iraq | Israel/Palestine | USA

Avedis Hadjian: Back in the USSR (Monde diplomatique)

It has looked like civil war in Ukraine, yet most Ukrainians don’t want any such thing, as shown by the 25 May election results. And pro-Russian separatists in the east mostly want to return to their old Soviet life.

Tariq Ali: Diary (London Review of Books)

Conversations in Cairo are punctuated by dates: 11 February (Mubarak’s fall), 24 June (Morsi’s election), 30 June (Sisi’s coup), which takes a bit of getting used to…
During and after the uprising Mubarak’s name stood for amorality, cynicism, duplicity, corruption, greed and opportunism. A few months after Morsi’s triumph at the polls, the same adjectives were being used to describe his rule, and soon it was being said that he was worse than Mubarak – a grotesque overstatement. The reality is that the Muslim Brotherhood, its supreme guide and its elected president were visionless sectarians, incapable of fulfilling the central demand of the uprising: ‘an end to the regime’. Morsi had no desire to unite the country by full-blooded democratisation: his ambition was to be an Islamist Mubarak.

Wilhelm Langthaler: Legitimizing the Pharaoh (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Martin Chulov: Iran sends troops into Iraq to aid fight against Isis militants (Guardian)

Tehran hints at cooperation with US to aid Nouri al-Maliki as jihadist group threatens to take Baghdad … Iran has sent 2,000 advance troops to Iraq in the past 48 hours to help tackle a jihadist insurgency, a senior Iraqi official has told the Guardian.

Martin Chulov: How an arrest in Iraq revealed Isis’s $2bn jihadist network (Guardian)
Florian Rötzer: ISIL bringt die Geopolitik durcheinander (Telepolis)
Rainer Hermann: Die Rache des Kreuz-Königs (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
Rainer Hermann: Die Sunniten vereinen sich zum Aufstand gegen Bagdad (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
Wilhelm Langthaler: Die Rache des „irakischen Widerstands“ (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
And the poodle yaps:
Patrick Wintour, Tracy McVeigh, Mark Townsend: Tony Blair: west must intervene in Iraq (Guardian)

Larry Jagan: Suu Kyi shifts pre-election tack in Myanmar (Asia Times)

After two years of delicate accommodation, Myanmars military backed government and the main pro-democracy opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) are on a collusion course ahead of general elections scheduled for next year. An NLD-led campaign launched last month to amend the 2008 constitution is openly challenging the militarys political power and testing political stability ahead of the pivotal polls.

Nauman Asghar: Rohingya abuses expose Myanmar insecurities (Asia Times)

Hundreds of Muslims have been killed and more than 100,000 forced to flee their homes. Eighty percent of the population of the country consists of Buddhists, and Ashin Wirathu, the monk leader of the violent “969” movement, has attempted to justify lynching of Muslims in the name of defending Buddhism against the encroaching influence of Islam.
Ashin Wirathu’s claim appears absurd if we consider that Muslims constitute only 5% of Myanmar’s population…
Rohingyas, largely to be found in the western Rakhine State, were full citizens of Myanmar until 1982 when the military rulers deprived them of their status of citizenship by enacting legislation and hence compounded their miseries. As a stateless community, the Rohingyas don’t have access to state services and they are also denied political representation.
The Rohingyas face discriminatory treatment at all levels of interaction with the state. The minority have been subjected to discriminatory population control measures and travel restrictions. The Rohingyas are also required by law to seek from authorities a permission certificate for marriage…
The recent transition to democracy in Myanmar has not eased the situation for Rohingyas and no political leader in Myanmar has condemned the Buddhist violence in unequivocal terms. Aung Sun Auu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, also keeps mum, as she does not want to spoil her chances of securing the presidency next year by alienating the majority group.

William Barnes: Activist, racial angst in Myanmar (Asia Times)

None of the interviewees claimed intimate knowledge of the private thoughts of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or indeed of the still-powerful generals. They were confident, however, that in the minds of the elite, Islam was an unwanted and unbidden complication.
This might help to explain why the Nobel peace prize winning democracy heroine Suu Kyi has notably failed to embrace the notion of Muslim “victimhood” in her homeland. It also shines light on prominent pro-democracy activist and former political prisoner Ko Ko Gyi’s proclamation that the Rohingya should not be considered an ethnic nationality of Myanmar.

Tom Farrell: The axis of Buddhist extremism (Asia Times)

Separated by race, language and the vastness of the Bay of Bengal, there is a striking convergence in the rhetoric of Myanmar’s and Sri Lanka’s Buddhist fundamentalist groups. Both fizz with triumphalism, belligerence and a fierce persecution complex. …
Sri Lanka is emerging from decades of ruinous civil war; Myanmar from decades of sclerotic military rule. Already resented by the majority Buddhist population during each country’s colonial period, Muslims in both nations bore the brunt of government or insurgent-led excesses after independence.
In Myanmar, alone out of the nation’s 135 officially recognized ethnicities, the Rohingya Muslim minority were stripped of their citizenship by General Ne Win’s ruling junta. Military operations in 1978 and 1991 sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh.
In Sri Lanka, Tamil insurgents expelled 60,000 Muslims from the rebel mini-state they established in the country’s north after 1990.

Peter Beaumont: Palestinian parliamentary speaker arrested in search for kidnapped teens (Guardian)

Israeli troops have arrested the speaker of the Palestinian parliament and Hamas member Aziz Dweik during a wave of detentions linked to a massive manhunt for three kidnapped teenagers.
An Israeli army statement on Monday said more than 40 suspects in the West Bank, “including Hamas leadership and operatives”, had been arrested, bringing the total number of arrests in the search to at least 150.

Alain Gresh: What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is negotiable (Monde diplomatique)

The US, chief guarantor for the Israeli-Palestinian talks for decades, is so habitually and instinctually pro-Israel that it can’t understand that the Palestinians even have a viewpoint, let alone what it is.

Ayelet Waldman: The Shame of Shuhada Street (Atlantic)

Chris Hedges: American Socrates (TruthDig)

We live in a bleak moment in human history. And Chomsky begins from this reality. He quoted the late Ernst Mayr, a leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century who argued that we probably will never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms render themselves extinct in a relatively short time.

Scott Horton: The Guantánamo “Suicides” (Harper’s Magazine, March 2010)
Scott Horton: Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaykh: The Guantánamo “Suicides” Revisited: Did CIA Hide Deaths of Tortured Prisoners at Secret Site? (Democracy Now)
Mark Denbeaux, Charles Church, Ryan K Gallagher, Adam Kirchner, Joshua Wirtshafter: Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta (Seton Hall Public Law Research Papers, 15 May 2014)
Christopher Brauchli: Compassionate Torture (CounterPunch)

On May 23, 2014 a federal court entered an order permitting the folks at Guantanamo to continue force-feeding Abu Wa’el Dhiab so that he won’t die. Mr. Dhiab, a Syrian national, was captured in Pakistan 12 years ago and has been at Guantanamo ever since. He has not been charged with any crime and was cleared for transfer five years ago. At first he was not released because the government worried about how he’d be treated in Syria and later because of the civil war taking place there. Mr. Dhiab does not want to be at Guantanamo. He would rather be dead. Accordingly he has engaged in a hunger strike.

Carl Gibson: Pepper Spray Cop’s Settlement Sets Dangerous Precedent (Reader Supported News)

Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis police pepper-sprayed a group of sitting protesters in 2011. Amidst an autumn of federally-coordinated, violent police suppression of the Occupy movement, the incident in Davis was clearly one of the most heinous cases. A group of students had linked arms, sat down, and refused to move when the police came to evict their encampment. Lt. John Pike then casually exhibited a red can of military-grade pepper spray, nonchalantly strolled past the protesters, and doused them in orange gas, which led to the hospitalization several of the students. International outrage ensued. “Pepper Spraying Cop” became a widely-shared meme, and Pike was originally put on paid leave and eventually fired. The students sued, and a $1 million settlement was split between all 21 of them. Pike was just awarded $38,058 in disability payments, after claiming he suffered “emotional and psychological damage” from his attack on UC Davis students.

Ukraine | Egypt | Israel/Palestine | Turkey | Korea | South Africa | Venezuela

Andrew Manchuk: On the situation in Ukraine (Borotba)

After some violent and bloody clashes in the centre of Kiev the power in our country was seized by the coalition of ultra-right and neoliberal political forces. The newly established regime immediately started the close cooperation with the richest oligarchs – with those who (along with the representatives of the EU and US) provided the financial aid and international support to Euromaidan. Some of these oligarchs were recently appointed as governors in the key industrial regions (that are the least loyal to new rightwing government) – with the expectation that they would suppress the anger of indignant protesters there.

Gerfried Sperl: OSZE in der Ostukraine: Aufklärungsbedarf (Standard)

Patrick Kingsley: Egyptian judge sentences 720 men to death (Guardian)

A judge in Egypt has sentenced to death 720 men, including the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a pair of mass-trials that were both completed after just two brief court sessions.

Eric Walberg: The Economics of Egypt’s Coup (CounterPunch)

As Egypt inches towards the first anniversary of the July 3 coup, the economy continues to flounder. The military-backed reverting to Mubarak-era policies has been buttressed only by lavish handouts from the Gulf Security Council (GCC) states and vague promises of future investment by western business, namely Coca Cola.

Desmond Tutu: Israel guilty of apartheid in treatment of Palestinians (Jerusalem Post)
Apartheid in planning rights / אפרטהייד תכנוני (Haaretz)

Israel’s discriminatory planning policy in the West Bank violates its most basic obligations.

Ali Abunimah: Tutu condemns US efforts to curb free speech on Palestine (Electronic Intifada)
Josh Rogin: Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘An Apartheid State’ (Daily Beast)

Ömer Taşpinar: The Islamic roots of the conflict in Turkey (Today Zaman)

The conflict between the Gülen movement and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has now taken on a very public dimension. For many in Turkey and in the West, this conflict is nothing but a power struggle. Yet, focusing solely on politics and the quest for power would be reductionist. The current conflict has deep historical, ideological and even doctrinal roots.

Christine Hong: War by Other Means: The Violence of North Korean Human Rights (Japan Focus)

This essay offers a historicized overview of the consolidation of contemporary human rights as the dominant lingua franca for social justice projects today and applies it to the debate over human rights in North Korea. Highlighting what the rights framework renders legible as well as what it consigns to unintelligibility, it examines the antinomies of contemporary human rights as an ethico-political discourse that strives to reassert the dominance of the global North over the global South. Relentlessly presentist in its assignment of blame and politically harnessed to a regime-change agenda, the human rights framing of North Korea has enabled human rights advocates, typically “beneficiaries of past injustice,” to assume a moralizing, implicitly violent posture toward a “regime” commonsensically understood to be “evil.” Cordoning off North Korea’s alleged crimes for discrete consideration while turning a willfully blind eye to the violence of sanctions, “humanitarian” intervention, and the withholding of humanitarian and developmental aid, the North Korean human rights project has allowed a spectrum of political actors—U.S. soft-power institutions, thinly renovated Cold War defense organizations, hawks of both neoconservative and liberal varieties, conservative evangelicals, anticommunist Koreans in South Korea and the diaspora, and North Korean defectors—to join together in common cause.

John Pilger: South Africa Today: Apartheid by Another Name (CounterPunch)

In 1985, apartheid had suffered two disasters: the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the regime defaulted on its mounting foreign debt. In September that year, a group led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, met Oliver Tambo, the ANC president, and other liberation officials in Mfuwe, Zambia.
The Relly message was that a “transition” from apartheid to a black-governed electoral democracy was possible only if “order” and “stability” were guaranteed. These was liberal code for a capitalist state in which social and economic democracy would never be a priority. The aim was to split the ANC between the “moderates” they could “do business with” (Tambo, Mandela and Thabo Mbeki) and the majority who made up the United Democratic Front and were fighting in the streets.
The betrayal of the UDF and its most effective components, such as the National Civic Organisation, is today poignant, secret history…
The transition was, in a sense, seamless. “You can put any label on it you like,” President Mandela told me at Groote Schur. “You can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatisation is the fundamental policy.”
“That’s the opposite of what you said before the first elections, in 1994,” I said.
“There is a process,” was his uncertain reply, “and every process incorporates change.”

Eva Golinger: The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela (CounterPunch)

Carol Rosenberg: 9/11 competency hearing puts focus on Guantánamo’s secret prison (Miami Herald)
Carol Rosenberg: 9/11 trial lawyer: CIA had its finger on Guantánamo’s mute button (Miami Herald)

Mystery solved, if there was any doubt: It was the CIA that hit the mute button in the war court earlier this year when a defense lawyer for the accused 9/11 mastermind began talking about the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, the lawyer said Monday…
Pentagon officials at the time refused to confirm that the CIA controlled the audio from the court to the spectator’s gallery and several closed-circuit TV sites.

David Swanson: Torture is Mainstream Now (CounterPunch)

In May 2009, former vice president Dick Cheney forced into the news the fact that, even though Obama had “banned torture” by executive order (torture being a felony and a treaty violation before and after the “banning”) Obama maintained the power to use torture as needed. Cheney saidthat Obama’s continued claim of the power to torture vindicated his own (Cheney’s) authorization of torture. David Axelrod, White House Senior Advisor, refused repeatedly, to dispute Cheney’s assertion — also supported by Leon Panetta’s confirmation hearing for CIA director, at which he said the president had the power to torture and noted that rendition would continue. In fact, it did. The New York Times quickly reportedthat the U.S. was now outsourcing more torture to other countries. The Obama administration announced a new policy on renditions that kept them in place, and a new policy on lawless permanent imprisonment that kept it in place but formalized it, mainstreamed it. Before long Obama-era rendition victims were alleging torture…
And secret CIA torture prisons have continued to pop into the news even though the CIA was falsely said to have abandoned that practice. While the Obama administration has claimed unprecedented powers to block civil suits against torturers, it has also used, in court, testimony produced by torture, something that used to be illegal (and still is if you go by written laws).

Ukraine | Venezuela | Turkey–Syria | Egypt | Myanmar | Palestine | Britain

John sent these links:
Dmytro Gorshkov: Ex-Ukraine Leader Tymoshenko Faces Heat For Comments About Nuking Russians (Business Insider)

Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was plunged into fresh controversy on Tuesday after Russian television broadcast a tape where she is heard urging the “wiping out” of Russians over Moscow’s seizure of Crimea…
“This really crosses all the boundaries,” Tymoshenko is heard to say in the leaked phone call posted on YouTube and broadcast extensively on Russian television Monday.
“One has to take up arms and go wipe out these damn ‘katsaps’ together with their leader,” the voice said in Russian, without mentioning Putin by name.
The word “katsap” is a derogatory Ukrainian term for Russians…
“I am sorry that I am not able to be there and am not in charge of these processes, they wouldn’t have had a fucking chance of getting Crimea off me.”
“I would have found a way to finish off these bastards,” the 53-year-old leader of the 2004 pro-democracy Orange revolution was heard as saying.
“I am hoping that I will use all my connections and will get the whole world to rise up so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia.”
Discussing the fate of Ukraine’s eight million ethnic Russians with Shufrych, Tymoshenko was also heard as saying that they should be “nuked”.

Boris Kagarlitsky: ‘A quadrille of monsters’ and ‘Smashing the feed trough’ (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
Here are the original articles:
Борис Кагарлицкий: Кадриль чудовищ | Разбить кормушку (рабкор.ру)
And here’s another article by Kagarlitsky:
Борис Кагарлицкий: “Вежливая интервенция” и украинская революция (рабкор.ру)
Boris Kagarlitsky: ‘Polite intervention’ and the Ukrainian uprising (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
More on Ukraine:
Alec Luhn: IMF offers Ukraine bailout as Yulia Tymoshenko enters presidential race (Guardian)

Whoever wins the vote on 25 May will face a tough task. The International Monetary Fund on Thursday offered Ukraine a bailout of up to $18bn (£10.9bn) over two years, in return for harsh economic reforms that may well worsen living standards for the already impoverished population. Further IMF aid will be unlocked if austerity measures are passed, including a sharp rise in the cost of energy…
Apart from the rise of up to 50% in the price of gas for consumers, Ukraine's state-controlled natural gas provider announced a 40% gas price increase for local heating companies, starting on 1 July. The government also accepted a flexible exchange rate for its currency, the hryvnia, which has fuelled inflation: an annual inflation rate of 12-14% is predicted.

Ulrich Rippert: Die „Demokraten“ des Maidan / The real face of Ukraine’s Maidan “democrats” (WSWS)

Two events this week have exposed the propaganda used by the German government and its allies to justify their actions in Ukraine: the death of Alexander Musytchko and a telephone conversation with Yulia Timoschenko, which was intercepted and made public.

Alex Lantier: Leader of US-backed Ukrainian fascist Right Sector militia killed in police shootout (WSWS)

At the time of his death, Muzychko was also under investigation for involvement in Ukrainian organized crime. He also faced an international arrest warrant, for torturing Russian prisoners while fighting on the side of Islamist Chechen separatists against Russia in 1994-95.

‘I dare you to take my gun!’ AK-47-toting Ukraine far-right leader tells officials (RT)
Ukrainian nationalist with AK-47 threatens to hang Interior minister ‘like a dog’ (RT)
Murderous Ukrainian ultra-nationalist dead – after 2 decades of violent thuggery (RT)
Thomas Eipeldauer: Bruderzwist (Hintergrund)

Andrew Cawthorne, Diego Ore: Venezuela unrest shakes up opposition (Reuters)

Leopoldo Lopez, a U.S.-educated economist who leads a radical wing of the opposition, defied Capriles’ moderate approach to organize street resistance against Maduro – and has been jailed for leading the protests.
That has made him a ‘martyr’ for some in the opposition and wrong-footed Capriles, who backs the protesters’ grievances but not their tactics as he seeks to preserve his own standing as the main anti-Maduro figurehead.

Ewan Robertson: A List of Fatalities After a Month of Political Violence in Venezuela (Venezuelanalysis)

Writing on 13 March, a total of at least 30 people have died in connection with the opposition protests, street barricades and unrest which have been occurring since 12 February in Venezuela.

Tim Arango: Recordings, Posted Online, Rattle Officials in Turkey (New York Times)

If any meeting was meant to be private, it was this one: the top spy chief, the foreign minister and his deputy, and a top military official discussing secret plans for possible military action in Syria…
On Thursday morning, a recording was posted on YouTube in which the officials were heard discussing a plot to establish a justification for military strikes in Syria.

Jack Moore: Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials (International Business Times, with an annoying video that starts when opening the page)

Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman: Egypt’s Courts Further Repression with Journos on Trial & Mass Death Sentence for Morsi Supporters (Democracy Now)

Egypt is facing international criticism after the largest mass sentencing in its modern history. On Monday, 529 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi were ordered killed over the death of a single police officer in protests last summer. The trial lasted just over two days, with the majority tried in absentia. The exceptionally swift trial and harsh sentences mark a new escalation of the Egyptian military regime’s crackdown on Morsi supporters, which has led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. In another closely watched trial, Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have been denied bail after nearly three months in prison. They are accused of belonging to or aiding a terrorist organization.

Kathleen E. McLaughlin: Burma mobs put census in doubt as western aid workers flee violence (Guardian)

Angry Buddhist protesters rampage through streets as country’s first census for 30 years opens up ethnic tensions…
There are more than a million Rohingya in Burma, and 140,000 have lived in camps in Rakhine since ethnic riots and clashes with Buddhists nearly two years ago. They will not be counted as Burmese citizens on the census, nor will they be listed among the 135 officially designated ethnic categories. But the census will acknowledge they exist by allowing an “other” category, allowing people to identify themselves as Rohingya.

פשע מלחמה / Nothing short of a war crime (Haaretz)

Last week, 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh and two of his friends left their village of Deir al-Asal al-Fauqa in the southern West Bank to pick plants on his family’s field, west of the separation fence…
After crossing the fence, the boys heard three or four gunshots. The firing came from an IDF ambush, a few dozen meters away. … [T]he shots had been fired with no warning.
A-Shawamreh was wounded in the hip and fell to the ground bleeding. He managed to crawl to the road, but then the soldiers emerged from their hiding place.
The soldiers arrested the other two boys and a-Shawamreh received preliminary medical treatment. A military ambulance arrived only half an hour later, although an IDF camp is located a mere two kilometers away. Meanwhile, the boy bled to death.

Ken Loach: Labour is part of the problem, not the solution (Guardian)

There’s too much to read …
Glenn Greenwald: Obama’s New NSA Proposal and Democratic Partisan Hackery (Intercept)
Marcy Wheeler: The White House Has Been Covering Up the Presidency’s Role in Torture for Years (Intercept)
Glenn Greenwald: Foreign Officials In the Dark About Their Own Spy Agencies’ Cooperation with NSA (Intercept)

One of the more bizarre aspects of the last nine months of Snowden revelations is how top political officials in other nations have repeatedly demonstrated, or even explicitly claimed, wholesale ignorance about their nations’ cooperation with the National Security Agency, as well as their own spying activities. This has led to widespread speculation about the authenticity of these reactions: Were these top officials truly unaware, or were they pretending to be, in order to distance themselves from surveillance operations that became highly controversial once disclosed?

Thailand | Egypt | Israel

John Cole, Steve Sciacchitano: Coup calculations in Thailand (Asia Times)

With hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters occupying large swathes of the national capital and a series of shadowy armed attacks on their encampments, speculation is rising that Thailand could be on the brink of another military coup. A similar protest movement paved the way for the September 2006 putsch that overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s [ทักษิณ ชินวัตร tʰáksǐn tɕʰinnáwát] administration. But the situation now is substantially more complicated, militating against the prospect of another army-led takeover.
During his more than three years as commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), General Prayuth Chan-ocha [ประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา pràjút tɕanʔoːtɕʰaː] has earned the reputation for sometimes speaking before thinking. Most recently, the military leader caused a stir when, after several weeks of ruling out a military intervention in Thailand’s escalating political crisis, he cryptically told reporters that he could neither open nor close the door to a future military coup.

Salma Shukrallah: Egypt’s constitution: Who’s backing it and why? (al-Ahram)

Unlike the former constitutional referendum in 2012, which saw an obvious split between Islamists and non-Islamists, polarisation has grown more complicated ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum.

Other groups also opposing Morsi during his year in power saw the articles related to military as reason to reject constitution. Member groups of the Way of the Revolution Front, who position themselves as anti-Brotherhood and anti-military, including the April 6 youth movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Strong Egypt Party announced they would vote ‘no’ to the amended constitution.
The articles groups rejected include that allowing military trials of civilians, that which prevents Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi from being removed for two consecutive terms as well as others.
The Strong Egypt Party for its part also stated it rejected the whole context in which the constitutional amendments and referendum are taking place.
“Despite our participation on 30 June [in mass protests against the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi], we are against 3 July [the day Morsi was announced ousted by army chief El-Sisi, backed by political and religious figures and a new roadmap was declared] and the consequences that followed…since then there has also been an increase in violence and repression,” Mohamed Osman of the Strong Egypt Party told Ahram Online.

The Front of the Revolutionary Path (or Way of the Revolution Front) apparently doesn’t have a website of its own, just a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
No to a constitution that does not realize the aims of the revolution (Thuwwār/Facebook)
There’s an article about them on Wikipedia in English:
Road of the Revolution Front (Wikipedia)

Amy Goodman, Rashid Khalidi, Noam Chomsky, Avi Shlaim: <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/13/noam_chomsky_on_the_legacy_of Noam Chomsky on the Legacy of Ariel Sharon: "Not Speaking Ill of the Dead "Imposes a Vow of Silence" / Sabra & Shatila Massacre That Forced Sharon’s Ouster Recalls Worst of Jewish Pogroms / For Peace Today, US Must End Support for Sharon’s Expansionist Legacy (Democracy Now)

Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He’s seen as father of the settlement movement, an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed a reported 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese. An Israeli commission of inquiry found Sharon had indirect responsibility for the massacre of over a thousand Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982.

Saed Bannoura: European legislators threatened with arrest by Israeli authorities (International Middle East Media Center)

Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon declared, on Tuesday, that former British International Development Secretary Clare Short and three other European legislators would be arrested if they try to come to Israel, due to their involvement in a European-Palestinian organization calling for an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Omar Barghouti: Is BDS’ campaign against Israel reaching a turning point? (AlJazeera)

At the height of its military – particularly nuclear – and economic power, Israel is feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable; but this time the threat is ironically coming from a nonviolent movement anchored in international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a “strategic threat” to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid by deciding to assign the overall responsibility for fighting against the BDS to the ministry of strategic affairs.
This dramatic shift reflects the failure of Israel’s well-oiled “Brand Israel” campaign, run by the foreign ministry since BDS was launched in 2005, which sees culture as a propaganda tool and whose logic is to use Israeli artists and writers to show the world “Israel’s prettier face”.

Herb Keinon: Foreign Ministry summons Dutch ambassador over pension fund divestment (Jerusalem Post)

For the second time in the last month and-a-half Israels Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the Dutch ambassador to protest a large Dutch company’s decision to sever ties with Israel.
Deputy Director General for European Affairs Raffi Schutz told the Dutch ambassador that the decision of PGGM pension fund to divest from Israel is unacceptable and relies on false pretenses. …
PGGM is among the Netherlands’ largest pension fund managers, with assets in excess of €153 billion ($210b.). Its dealing with Israeli banks amounts to tens of millions of euros, according to Haaretz.
It is the latest in a string of large Dutch companies that have cut off ties with Israeli entities.
Last month Dutch water giant Vitens canceled cooperation with Israel’s water corporation Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law.

Ahmed Moor: Sharon: The architect of terror (AlJazeera)

In many ways, Ariel Sharon was the most complete Zionist of his generation. He embodied an expansionary, rapacious view of Jewish privilege in Palestine – the essential Zionism – well after many of his co-religionists had claimed to settle for less…
Sharon’s daring and willingness to lead attacks against civilians marked him for command among his fellows. In 1953, he orchestrated the massacre of 69 Palestinian civilians in Qibya while leading “Unit 101” – an infamous Israeli army unit dedicated to extracting high civilian costs among Palestinian communities that resisted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The murders of mostly women and children served to foreshadow Sharon’s responsibility for Sabra and Shatila decades later…
Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was ostensibly designed to prevent Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas from striking Israeli outposts near the Lebanon-Israel border. His forces shelled and besieged Beirut while world powers negotiated an end to the devastation. The Israelis agreed to withdraw in return for Yasser Arafat’s exile to Tunisia. Arafat and his fighters were forced to abandon the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps – densely populated and impoverished urban ghettos on the outskirts of Beirut. The civilians there were left defenceless against the Israelis and their allies, the Lebanese Phalange militia. After the departure of the PLO, Sharon invited the Phalangists into the camps where they spent two days massacring approximately 3,000 Palestinian and Lebanese men, women and children…
Jewish-Israelis initially rejected Sharon’s sectarian brutality and war crimes, if not his objectives. A governmental panel censured him and forced him to resign from his post as minister of defence after investigating his role in Sabra and Shatila.

Seth Anziska: A Preventable Massacre (New York Times, 16 September 2012)

Iran | Congo–Rwanda–Uganda | Egypt | Venezuela | Germany

Julian Borger, Saeed Kamali Dehghan: Iran seals nuclear deal with west in return for sanctions relief (Guardian)

The difficulties facing the negotiators in the coming months were highlighted by the different interpretations Kerry and Zarif took on the fiercely disputed issue of whether the deal represented a recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium in principle. Zarif was insistent that it did because it was based on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which guarantees the right to a peaceful nuclear programme. Kerry said that neither the NPT nor Sunday’s deal specifies a right to enrichment.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Wikisource)

Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination …

Harriet Sherwood: Israel condemns Iran nuclear deal as ‘historic mistake’ (Guardian)

Ismael Hossein-Zadeh: Why the Iran Nuclear Talks Failed (CounterPunch)

The three day nuclear negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of world powers that started on November 7th came to an unsuccessful end when, apparently, France balked at the proposed interim deal as not sufficiently controlling Iran’s nuclear technology. Whether the French objected independently or as part of a good cop bad cop game to sabotage the proposed deal is of secondary importance. The more important point is that Western nuclear powers backed-off from their own demands and proposals despite the fact that they represented a number of significant one-sided concessions by the Iranian negotiators.

Ann Garrison, Jean-Mobert N’Senga: Why is DRC “Negotiating” With M23, Not Rwanda and Uganda? (CounterPunch)

Anyone who’s paid any serious attention to the conflict between the Congolese army and the M23 militia in eastern Congo, knows that the M23 were never “Congolese rebels,” as AP, Reuters, and the rest of the corporate press have agreed to identify them. M23 has been fighting under Rwandan command, in consultation with top Ugandan officials, with support, recruits, and conscripts from Rwanda and Uganda, for the territorial claims of the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes, as were M23′s previous incarnations, the RCD and the CNDP. …
So why isn’t Congo at the table with Uganda and Rwanda, aside from the fact that Rwanda and Uganda have no legitimate territorial claims within the borders of the DRC? And/or the fact that Uganda and Rwanda are both longstanding “military partners” of the U.S., which makes the truth both inconvenient and embarrassing in Washington D.C.?

Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Nermeen Sheikh, Amy Goodman: As New Protest Law Looms, Egypt Faces Harsher Authoritarian Order Than the Revolution Overthrew (Democracy Now)

[T]he military and the Muslim Brotherhood have acted as two juggernauts in the Egyptian body politic. They’re both characterized by patriarchy and secrecy and mendacity, and they’ve both, you know, ripped apart Egypt’s social fabric as they struggle for power. And I think a lot of groups felt pushed out of this discourse when these two big juggernauts came to a clash, to a head. Morsi and the Brotherhood governed in a very majoritarian style. They alienated people across the political spectrum. They encouraged and wanted a brutal security sector. They encouraged the killing of protesters. And so, when the parts of the deep state, the police and the army, that they tried to placate—they really did try to bring them on their side and be a part of a new elite and harness the state instead of reform it—when those elements turned on them, there was no one standing by them. And so, people have been watching this killing. Of course, they condemn this level of violence, but it’s a very complicated and difficult situation right now in Egypt.

Chris Gilbert: Refrigerator Wars in Venezuela (CounterPunch)

Importers in Venezuela bring in goods with cheap dollars that they obtain through the state – dollars that come from the petroleum rent. They then mark up the goods 200% to 1000%. The government’s idea is to limit the markup to 30%.

Noam Chomsky, Chris Steele: There’s Always a Class War Going On (CounterPunch)

Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

Joachim Jachnow: What’s Become of the German Greens? (New Left Review)

Once pillars of the peace movement, Die Grünen are now cheerleaders for Western military intervention. Joachim Jachnow’s cursus vitae of the movement—diverse origins, ideological rifts, shifting social bases—explains the transformation.

Trademark Bully Jenzabar Ordered To Pay $500,000 In Attorney Fees Over Its Unrelenting Attack On Documentary Filmmakers (techdirt)

The central element of abuse of process is the use of litigation for an ulterior purpose — that is, a purpose other than to achieve relief for the wrong alleged. The overall record of this case leaves no doubt that that is exactly what Jenzabar did; it subjected Long Bow to protracted and costly litigation not to protect the good will of its trademark from misappropriation, but to suppress criticism of Jenzabar’s principals and its corporate practices. …
Jenzabar’s multiple and shifting legal and factual theories, asserted at the various stages of the case, support the same conclusion, as does its objection to pro hac vice admission of the lawyer who assumed Long Bow’s defense after it had exhausted its resources. In this regard, the differences in economic power between the parties is one of many circumstances that tends to confirm the conclusion that Jenzabar engaged in extortionate conduct, making this case exceptional.

USA–Syria–Egypt | NSA | Myanmar

Kevin Connor, Amy Goodman, Juan González: The Military-Industrial Pundits: Conflicts of Interest Exposed for TV Guests Who Urged Syrian War (Democracy Now)

New research shows many so-called experts who appeared on television making the case for U.S. strikes on Syria had undisclosed ties to military contractors. A new report by the Public Accountability Initiative identifies 22 commentators with industry ties. While they appeared on television or were quoted as experts 111 times, their links to military firms were disclosed only 13 of those times. The report focuses largely on Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush. During the debate on Syria, he appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV. None of these stations informed viewers that Hadley currently serves as a director of the weapons manufacturer Raytheon that makes Tomahawk cruise missiles widely touted as the weapon of choice for bombing Syria. He also owns over 11,000 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate. We speak to Kevin Connor of the Public Accountability Initiative, a co-author of the report.

Anjali Kamat, Amy Goodman, Juan González: U.S. Weapons and Arms Parts Continued to Flow to Egypt (Democracy Now)

The United States recently announced plans to scale back aid to Egypt’s military government three months after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Last week, the State Department said the United States will withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance until “credible progress” is made toward “an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government.” But a new investigation from Al Jazeera’s “Fault Lines” program shows that the recent aid cuts might be more symbolic than anything else.

Merkel is not amused. And a British paper discovers another German word than blitzkrieg.
Andrew Rosenthal: Clapper and Carney Get Slippery on Surveillance (New York Times)

The White House press secretary, Jay Carney said, “The president assured [Merkel] that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications” of the chancellor.” Please note: IS not monitoring and WILL NOT monitor. The allegation, unaddressed, was that the United States HAD been monitoring her calls (until it was caught in the act).

Philip Oltermann: Angela Merkel bugging claims met with schadenfreude in Germany (Guardian)

Reports of Angela Merkel’s phone being monitored by the US National Security Agency were met in Germany not just with outrage, but a more familiar German emotion: schadenfreude.
Many Germans thought the chancellor, below, had been too restrained in her criticism when the extent of NSA surveillance on ordinary citizens emerged. Now they believe Merkel is getting a taste of her own medicine.

James Ball: NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts (Guardian)

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Jacques Follorou, Glenn Greenwald: Comment la NSA espionne la France (Le Monde)

L’avenir dira peut-être, un jour, pourquoi Paris est resté si discret, par rapport à Berlin ou Rio après les révélations sur les programmes d’espionnage électronique américain dans le monde. Car la France a été tout autant ciblée et dispose aujourd’hui de preuves tangibles que ses intérêts sont quotidiennement visés.

Sam Jones: Snowden leaks: France summons US envoy over NSA surveillance claims (Guardian)
Mari Luz Peinado: Snowden afirma que la NSA tuvo acceso al correo electrónico de Felipe Calderón (El país)

Las nuevas informaciones reveladas por Eduard Snowden vuelven a apuntar a que el Gobierno estadounidense espió a su vecino mexicano. Según revela este domingo el semanario alemán Der Spiegel una división de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA) consiguió acceder al correo de la Presidencia mexicana y a la cuenta del expresidente Felipe Calderón. La NSA calificó la información que obtenía como una “fuente lucrativa”.

Jens Glüsing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark: Fresh Leak on US Spying: NSA Accessed Mexican President’s Email (Der Spiegel)

The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.

David Baulk: Economic reform as flawed ideology (Asia Times)
David Baulk: Myanmar’s not so special economic zones (Asia Times)

Angelique Chrisafis, Helena Smith, Philip Oltermann, Lizzy Davies: Roma fear witch hunt after Greek case (Guardian)

The 10 to 12 million Roma people in Europe already make up one of the largest, most disadvantaged minorities on the continent. They frequently live in makeshift camps with no water or electricity, face routine evictions, become victims of violence, are discriminated against over jobs, and find their children segregated at school.
Rights groups are now, however, concerned about a knock-on effect across Europe of an anti-Roma witch hunt gathering pace following the frenzy over the case of Maria, the fair-haired child found in the Roma camp near Farsala, Greece.

Syria | Egypt | Judith Butler | Ilija Trojanow

Rob sent this link (it’s a month old, but important):
Gareth Porter: Obama’s Case for Syria Didn’t Reflect Intel Consensus (Inter Press Service)

Contrary to the general impression in Congress and the news media, the Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration Aug. 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, an IPS analysis and interviews with former intelligence officials reveals.
The evidence indicates that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper culled intelligence analyses from various agencies and by the White House itself, but that the White House itself had the final say in the contents of the document. …
Opponents of the proposed U.S. strike against Syria could argue that the Obama administration’s presentation of the intelligence supporting war is far more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W. Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Human Rights Watch: “You Can Still See Their Blood”. Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside (PDF, HRW/DocumentCloud)
‘Syrian rebels committed war crimes’ (Deutsche Welle)
Joshua Keating: Human Rights Watch Criticizes Turkey Over Syrian Opposition Massacre (Slate)

Human Rights Watch has collected the names of 190 civilians who were killed by opposition forces in their offensive on the villages, including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men.

AP: US to cut military and economic aid to Egypt (Guardian)

The Obama administration is poised to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Egypt, US officials have said. An announcement is expected this week.
The US has been considering such a move since the Egyptian military removed the country’s first democratically elected leader in June. It would be a dramatic shift for the Obama administration, which has declined to label President Mohamed Morsi’s ousting a coup and has argued it is in US national security interests to keep aid flowing. …
The US provides Egypt with $1.5bn (£940m) a year in aid, $1.3bn of which is military assistance; the rest is economic.

Andre Vltchek: Egypt: End of Hope (CounterPunch)

Instead of passion and hope, all there is left on the streets of Cairo is depressing defeatism, frustration and hate.

Cihan Aksan, Jon Bailes: An Interview With Judith Butler (CounterPunch)

Gregory Barrett: The Banning of Ilija Trojanow (CounterPunch)

On September 30th, as he was about to fly from Brazil to Denver, Colorado, where he had been invited to attend and address a German Studies conference, the German novelist Ilija Trojanow (pronounced “llya Troyanov”) was informed that he would not be allowed to board the flight on which he was booked.
He was told, after some 45 minutes of waiting while his passport and various computer screens were examined, that his case was “special” and that no further explanation was available. To this date, none has been offered.
But the explanation was and is obvious to anyone aware of Mr. Trojanow’s recent political history, in the context of the Obama administration’s increasingly jaundiced and vehement campaign against whistleblowers and critics of its surveillance-state apparatus. Despite the President’s absurdly facile talk of “welcoming the debate” on NSA data-gobbling and Orwellian tactics, the war on internet freedom is reaching a new high point.

USA verweigern deutschem Schriftsteller Trojanow die Einreise (Zeit)

Auf Einladung wollte Ilija Trojanow an einem Kongress teilnehmen, doch die USA verweigerten die Einreise. Der Schriftsteller hatte zuvor eine NSA-Petition unterzeichnet.

Syria | Egypt | Korea

Vladimir Putin: A Plea for Caution From Russia (New York Times)

The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression…
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.

Andrew Levine: From Russia Without Love (CounterPunch)

The use of chemical nerve-agents in combat is banned under international law, as well it should be. The many horrific weapons that have come on line since the First World War – among others, bombers, cruise missiles, chemicals that burn human skin, depleted uranium shells and, of course, weaponized drones should be banned as well…
There is, it seems, good, but inconclusive, evidence that the Syrian government did indeed violate the chemical warfare ban. There is also evidence that some of the rebel groups fighting the government did too. It bears notice that they have much to gain if the world, or at least Americans and Europeans, think that their hands are clean, and that Assad is guilty as sin.
In any case, Obama’s plan was to launch an unprovoked and unsanctioned war against Syria, a sovereign state.
According to the 1945 Nuremburg Charter, initiating a war of aggression is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
In other words, Obama wanted to punish a possible war crime by committing a far graver one.

Igor Sutyagin: Assessing Syrian Chemical Weapons Use (Royal United Services Institute / YouTube)
Thomas Pierret: External support and the Syrian insurgency (Middle East Channel / Foreign Policy)

Would arming moderate Syrian rebels reduce the influence of their radical counterparts? This question, which has been extensively debated by proponents and opponents of indirect military involvement in Syria, has perhaps become obsolete: backing the most pragmatic insurgent groups is what Saudi Arabia has been doing for months now, and it seems to work… Saudi Arabia does not only despise the Muslim Brothers, but political Islamic movements and mass politics in general, which it sees as a threat to its model of absolute patrimonial monarchy. Saudi policies are not driven by religious doctrines, as is too often assumed, but by concerns for the stability of the kingdom, which translate into support for political forces that are inherently conservative or hostile to Islamist movements: these forces can be apolitical Salafis aligned with the Saudi religious establishment (the Ahl al-Athar Battalions in Syria, funded from Kuwait by the quietist Heritage Association), but first and foremost non-religious forces such as the secular intellectuals and tribal chiefs Riyadh has recently backed against the Muslim Brothers and Qatar within the Syrian National Coalition. Of course, in Syria like in Egypt, these politically conservative forces also include the military. Riyadh has been the driving force behind several initiatives aimed at organizing the insurgency under the aegis of defector officers rather than of the civilian volunteers that run most Islamist groups.

Mohammed Al Attar: Al Raqqa: The reality of the military brigades, the administration of the liberated city and the revolutions to come (al-Ǧumhūrīya)
Paul Joseph Watson: Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack (Infowars)

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

Dave Lindorff: Obama’s Obscenities on Syria (CounterPunch)
Andre Vltchek: Syria, Prepare Yourself for Rape! (CounterPunch)
Wilhelm Langthaler: Syria: No to the US attack and continued military pressure (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

We are relieved that the imminent threat of an US aggression on Syria is preliminarily put on hold and a diplomatic channel has been opened up. But the US military power projection remains in place and the bloody civil war continues. We therefore need to continue and step up the campaign against foreign intervention and especially the western one. But at the same time we ought to help to pave the way for a transitional government fulfilling the demands of the original democratic popular movement.

Hannes Hofbauer: Wer hat hier wen ausgetrickst? (Neues Deutschland)

Der jetzt in New York vorgelegte UN-Bericht beweist: In Syrien wurde Giftgas eingesetzt. Doch von wem? Der Streit zwischen Russland und den USA über die Schuldfrage überschattet inzwischen ihre Genfer Vereinbarung. Hat die USA einen Masterplan in Sachen Syrien?

Gregory Elich: The Return of Repression. Political Firestorm in South Korea (CounterPunch)

Actions by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) have generated a political furor that is growing by the day, pitting the ruling New Frontier Party against the main opposition Democratic Party and threatening the existence of the Unified Progressive Party.
The NIS intervened in the election of December 2012 in an endeavor to bring victory to conservative candidates. NIS director Won Sei-hoon ordered the agency’s psychological warfare division to launch a campaign to discredit liberal and left political candidates.

Reza Fiyouzat, Shamus Cooke: The Egyptian Revolution’s Next Barrier (CounterPunch)

When the Egyptian army first began its offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood many speculated that such an assault would likely be extended to the same revolutionaries who demanded — in massive demonstrations — that President Morsi be evicted from office.
There have been several signs that this has already begun, though most notably the government repression against striking workers at Suez Steel and the Scimitar Petroleum company, where the striking workers were accused of being influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood…
After the fall of Mubarak, the MB hurried to join the regime that had propped up Mubarak — with all its policies, security apparatus linked to the U.S. government, with all its ties to the neoliberal agenda of the imperialists of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and western banks — in short, the MB completely immersed itself with the old regime, while slapping on a thick coat of Islamist veneer to make the surface seem “Islamic” to the MB rank and file. The rest of Egyptian society was completely ignored, revolution be damned.
Through a farce of an electoral system the MB joined the military regime — an alliance deemed necessary at the time by the ruling elites, though with clear internal contradictions — ensuring that the two maintained joint control while working to coerce the revolution into submission. All the while the broader social and economic discontent that led to the revolution would be — as it was under Mubarak — completely neglected, and even denied any legitimacy.

Alain Gresh: Egypte, chroniques d’une contre-révolution (Monde diplomatique)
Sonia Ryang: Reading Volcano Island: In the Sixty-fifth Year of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising (Japan Focus)

Denis Halliday: WHO Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq (Global Research)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorically refused in defiance of its own mandate to share evidence uncovered in Iraq that US military use of Depleted Uranium and other weapons have not only killed many civilians, but continue to result in the birth of deformed babies.

Syria | Egypt | Iraq–Iran | Palestine

Joshua Landis: Should the Use of Chemical Weapons Prompt a US Attack in Syria? (Syria Comment)
Say NO to another U.S. War, BEFORE the Bombs Fall! (International Action Center)
Elizabeth O’Bagy: The Opposition Advances in Damascus (Institute for the Study of War)

Despite significant gains in Homs province, Syrian government forces are struggling against opposition forces on other fronts. In Damascus, opposition forces have mounted a major offensive, entering many government-held areas and gaining new ground. Although the government has gone on the counter-offensive, opposition forces have been able to maintain their advance and prevented government forces from storming a number of critical areas in the city. These gains reveal the extent to which the opposition is able to adapt to changes in the operating environment, and prove that the Syrian government lacks the capacity to conclusively defeat the insurgency despite increased assistance from external allies.

Dale Gavlak, Yahya Ababneh: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack (MintPress News)

Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.

Will the National Coalition of Revolutionary Forces in Eastern Ghouta Be Able to Unite the Revolutionary Forces? (Syrian Observer)
Pentagon may be involved in Chemical Attack in Syria: US Intelligence Colonel Hacked Emails (Global Research)
Raphaël Lefèvre: The Brotherhood Starts Anew in Syria (Majalla)

While the Egyptian Brotherhood makes global headlines and Tunisia’s Ennahda Party struggles to remain in power, very little is publicly known about the state of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. In recent weeks, much has been made of the decrease in the group’s influence over the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). In contrast, not a lot has been said on the Brotherhood’s actual influence inside Syria and its strategy for the revolution. How exactly does the movement plan on dealing with recent trends in the conflict, such as the rise of Islamic extremism in opposition ranks?

Anthony Dworkin, Daniel Levy, Julien Barnes-Dacey: Eight things to consider before intervening in Syria (European Council on Foreign Relations)

What are the goals of intervention? – The chemical weapons dilemma – The problem with evidence – The legality challenge – The military dynamic of western intervention – Impact on the trajectory of the Syria conflict – Impact on the region – A diplomatic alternative?

Syria Statement (International Crisis Group)

Debate over a possible strike – its wisdom, preferred scope and legitimacy in the absence of UN Security Council approval – has obscured and distracted from what ought to be the overriding international preoccupation: how to revitalise the search for a political settlement.

Brown Moses Blog (Blogspot)
Mariana sent this link:
Rebeldes sirios confirman a una periodista su implicación en el ataque con armas químicas (RT)
And here’s a remarkable article in German:
Hans-Christof Kraus: Und ihr denkt, es geht um einen Diktator (Frankfurter Allgemeine)

Der aktuelle Konflikt um ein Eingreifen oder Nicht-Eingreifen in den syrischen Bürgerkrieg ist deshalb so brisant, weil sich in dieser Frage der Gegensatz zwischen zwei radikal unterschiedlichen geostrategischen und weltpolitischen Konzeptionen manifestiert. Den Amerikanern und der westlichen Seite geht es nicht oder nicht vorrangig darum, der bedauernswerten syrischen Bevölkerung zu helfen, sondern um Einflussnahme auf die Neugestaltung des Landes nach einem voraussichtlichen Sturz des derzeitigen Regimes, obwohl man mit diesem bisher stets gut zusammenarbeiten konnte. Mehrere, seit längerem geplante, für den Westen wichtige Öl- und Gaspipelines stehen auf dem Spiel, die Saudi-Arabien und Qatar mit dem östlichen Mittelmeerraum und der Türkei verbinden und deshalb partiell durch syrisches Gebiet führen sollen.

David Hearst: Why Saudi Arabia is Taking a Risk by Backing the Egyptian Coup (Information Clearing House)

King Abdullah fears the Muslim Brotherhood, which challenges the kingdom’s claim to be the protector of Islam.

The military’s new massacres in Egypt (Socialist Worker)
Yoav Bar: Enter the BAD Guys (Free Haifa)
Haitham Mohamedain released, but charged with “terrorism” against the state (MENA Solidarity Network)
Mohamed Malik, Mohamad Omar: Egypt During the Reign of the Lunatics (CounterPunch)

Shane Harris, Matthew M. Aid: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran (Foreign Policy)

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen …
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

Lea Frehse: Haidar Eid: holding our breath in Gaza (Alternative Information Centre)