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 | Palestine/Israel | Mexico | Iran | USA

Aron Lund: Divided They Stand. An Overview of Syria’s Political Opposition Factions (PDF; Palmecentret)
Syrian Left Coalition: Damascus uprising calling upon soldiers to switch side (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
SNC rift over Syrian transitional government (al-Akhbar)
Syria: from the oppositions gathered in Sant’Egidio an appeal for a political solution (NCB)
Melkulangara Kumaran Bhadrakumar: Syria: Regime change and smart power. The rise and fall of Turkey’s Erdogan (Asia Times)
Nick Brauns: PKK-Fahnen auf Rathäusern (junge Welt)
Syriens Zukunft entscheidet sich in Berlin (Berliner Morgenpost)

Die politische Opposition in Syrien gilt auch nach den militärischen Erfolgen der Freien Syrischen Armee (FSA) weiter als zerstritten und unorganisiert. Der im Oktober 2011 als Dachorganisation diverser Oppositioneller gegründete Syrische Nationalrat (SNC) mit Sitz in Istanbul vertritt nach eigenen Angaben 60 Prozent der Regimegegner. Dazu gehören die verbotene Muslimbruderschaft sowie christliche und kurdische Minderheiten. Die meisten SNC-Mitglieder sind Exil-Syrer, wie der in Schweden lebende Vorsitzende Abdelbasit Seida, ein Kurde. Nach Einschätzung von Fachleuten wird aber die Rolle des SNC, der kürzlich von der internationalen Staatengruppe der “Freunde Syriens” anerkannt wurde, völlig überbewertet. Stärker in Syrien selbst verankert ist das Nationale Koordinationskomitee für den demokratischen Wandel (NCC)), dem ein Dutzend linke und mehrere kurdische Parteien angehören.

Pepe Escobar: Welcome to the Kurdish Spring (Asia Times)
Mona Sarkis: Autonomie in der Warteschleife (Telepolis)
James P. Rubin: The Real Reason to Intervene in Syria (Foreign Policy)

Cutting Iran’s link to the Mediterranean Sea is a strategic prize worth the risk.

Victor Kotsev: Israel stirs on the eve of Middle East war (Asia Times)

Some analysts have speculated that an American-led campaign in Syria might postpone an Israeli strike on Iran, not least because the Assad regime is a key element of Iran’s influence on the Levant.

Zvi Bar’el: CIA’s favorite Saudi prince is laying the groundwork for a post-Assad Syria / הנסיך הסעודי חביב הסי-איי-אי מכין את השטח לסוריה שאחרי אסד (Haaretz)
As’ad AbuKhalil: Nasrallah on Syria (al-Akhbar)

Zeev Sternhell: Ariel as a showcase for Israel / אריאל כחלון ראווה (Haaretz)

Ariel, the new university town, is the symbol of Israel and its true showcase. The settlement, which lies some 20 kilometers east of the Green Line, was from the start intended to drive a wedge into the heart of the West Bank so that it would be impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state there. … The college also demonstrates Israel’s real order of priorities. Its status was changed arrogantly, via a process that rode roughshod over academic rules and blatantly ignored the accepted criteria for Israeli universities.

Harriet Sherwood: Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year (Guardian)

The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew by more than 15,000 in the past year to reach a total that exceeds 350,000 for the first time and has almost doubled in the past 12 years. Figures from Israel’s population registry show a 4.5% increase in the past 12 months. Most of the newcomers moved into settlements that many observers expect to be evacuated in any peace deal leading to a Palestinian state. … The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said on Thursday that violent attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property, mosques and farmland had increased by 150% over the past year.

Jo Tuckman: Mexican media scandal: secretive Televisa unit promoted PRI candidate / Una unidad secreta de Televisa promocionó al candidato del PRI (Guardian)

Owen Bennett-Jones: Terrorists? Us? (London Review of Books)

The story of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, also known as the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK), is all about the way image management can enable a diehard enemy to become a cherished ally. The MEK is currently campaigning to be officially delisted in the US as a terrorist organisation. Once off the list it will be free to make use of its support on Capitol Hill in order to become America’s most favoured, and no doubt best funded, Iranian opposition group.

Nicholas Shaxson: Where the Money Lives (Vanity Fair)
Chitrangada Choudhury: NYPD ‘consistently violated basic rights’ during Occupy protests – study (Guardian)