Syria | Honduras | Nelson Mandela

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: ‘Syria is not a revolution any more – this is civil war’ (Guardian)

Rivalry between rebels and Islamists has replaced the uprising’s lofty ideals, leaving veteran commanders despairing.

Chris Looney: Al-Qaeda’s Governance Strategy in Raqqa (Syria Comment)

Since ISIS came to power in May, its abuse of Raqqa’s citizens has been well documented. It has begun to enforce its extreme interpretation of Islam upon the city’s residents, forcing women to “cover their beauty,” banning tobacco products, and brutally repressing dissident voices.
On the surface, this violence appears to be indiscriminate and irrational. Yet, it is also organized and tactical. For a group that has never before fully controlled a large city, the transition from insurgent to administrator has hardly been smooth. Still, ISIS has managed to develop a robust, systemic strategy of governance for Raqqa that links the city to sister strongholds in Iraq. Through the control of goods and services, ISIS has made the city’s residents dependent on it. As intricate as it is oppressive, this strategy is serving ISIS well; ISIS has consolidated its authority in Raqqa as it expands its reach over much of eastern Syria and Iraq.

Richard Sisk: Hagel Says America’s Syria Policy in Turmoil (Military.com)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that infighting among rebel factions in Syria left the U.S. in doubt on how to continue support for rebels in the ongoing civil war that has killed more than 120,000 and sent millions of refugees into neighboring countries.
“It’s not an easy choice between the good guys and the bad guys here,” Hagel said at a Pentagon briefing. “This is a problem — what has occurred here — a big problem,” Hagel said.

Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud: Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone (New York Times)

Saudi Arabia has been friends with our Western partners for decades; for some, like the United Kingdom where I serve as ambassador, for almost a century. These are strategic alliances that benefit us both. Recently, these relationships have been tested — principally because of differences over Iran and Syria.
We believe that many of the West’s policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East. This is a dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by.

Paul Sperry: Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup (New York Post)
Amy Goodman, Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry-Picked” Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike (Democracy Now)

Amy Goodman, Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh at Democracy Now had a whole series of interviews and stories on Nelson Mandela:
Piero Gleijeses: The Secret History of How Cuba Helped End Apartheid in South Africa (Democracy Now)
Ronnie Kasrils: The Anti-Apartheid Underground: Ronnie Kasrils on Meeting Nelson Mandela in an ANC Safe House in 1962 (Democracy Now)
Ronnie Kasrils: From Marxism to Neoliberalism. Ronnie Kasrils on How Mandela & ANC Shifted Economic Views (Democracy Now)
Andrew Cockburn: “One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela (Democracy Now)
Lisa Graves: ALEC’s “Institutional Corruption,” From Backing Apartheid to Assault on Clean Energy, Public Sector (Democracy Now)

Mark Weisbrot: Why the world should care about Honduras’ recent election (Guardian)

Hondurans are revolting against the US-backed outcome. There are too many reports of rampant vote-buying, fraud and violence.

Alberto Arce: Honduras candidate makes case for election fraud (Associated Press)

The opposition presidential candidate in last week’s elections in Honduras is citing allegedly altered tally sheets, ballots cast by dead or absent people, and inadequate monitoring of polling stations in her bid to have a recount of a vote she calls fraudulent.

Giorgio Trucchi: Resultados das eleições em Honduras foram alterados, diz observador da União Europeia (Opera mundi) / The Results of the Elections in Honduras were Changed, Says European Union Observer (Upside Down World)

Leo Gabriel, Austrian journalist and member of the EU-EOM, stated that the vast majority of the members of the mission were in strong disagreement with the preliminary report. According to him, the disagreements about what happened on November 24th provoked a heated internal debate. Nonetheless, political calculations and business interests prevailed and [the EU-EOM] preferred to close their eyes and ignore the obvious changes made to the results and the violation of the Honduran people’s will as expressed at the ballot box.

EFE: UE desautoriza a observador que dice elecciones en Honduras fueron tramposas (ABC)
APA: Honduras: Kritik am Bericht der EU-Mission (Standard)
Honduras Election Monitoring Report (Alliance for Global Justice)

A delegation of 55 North Americans, including numerous lawyers, academics, and a sitting judge has issued a report challenging claims that the Honduras election was “peaceful” and “transparent.” The 28-page report documents vote buying, voter intimidation, bias in voting table officers, violence and threats of violence occurring on and before election day, November 24, 2013.

Kim Willsher: French soldier wears Nazi slogan on uniform in Central African Republic (Guardian)

French military chiefs have launched an investigation to after a soldier serving in the Central African Republic was pictured wearing a Nazi slogan on his uniform.
The man, reportedly from an elite parachute regiment, was photographed in fatigues carrying his rifle. On the right sleeve of his uniform was sewn a round patch carrying the number 32 on a French flag and the words “Meine Ehre heisst Treue” (“my honour is loyalty”). The motto was used by Nazi Waffen-SS soldiers during the second world war and is banned in a number of countries including Germany and Austria…
The controversy follows a similar row in November, when a French soldier in Mali was photographed wearing a scarf printed with a death mask. In 2008, three French soldiers from another parachute regiment, also based in south-west France, were photographed making a Hitler salute while wrapped in a Nazi flag bearing a swastika.

Iran | Spain | Israel-Palestine | Syria | Honduras | Kissinger–Zhou

This article in the New Yorker unfortunately is behind a paywall:
Seymour M. Hersh: Iran and the Bomb: How real is the nuclear threat? (New Yorker)
Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett: America’s on-again / off-again love affair with Iran’s nuclear programme (Race for Iran)

Manifesto; also in Castilan, Basque, Catalan, Asturian, Aragonese, Galician, German, French and Italian (¡Democracia Real YA!)

Barak Ravid: Secret cables show Israel’s battle plan over Palestinian UN bid | משרד החוץ לשגרירים: כך תמנעו הכרה בפלסטין באו”ם (Ha’aretz)

M. K. Bhadrakumar: Turkey’s not-so-subtle shift on Syria (Asia Times; version with links to sources at MRzine)

Mark Weisbrot: What Manuel Zelaya’s return means for Honduras (Guardian)

Winston Lord to Henry A. Kissinger: Memcon of your conversations with Chou En-lai (PDF; National Security Archive)