Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gazas Hopes Dashed by Morsi and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

By: Rami Almeghari

Source: Global Research

Ever since the toppling of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, Palestinians in Gaza have hoped that they would see an end to the punishing restrictions on their movement through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, their only gateway to the outside world.

I know first-hand about the hardships these restrictions cause, not only because as a reporter I have covered them for years, but because my family has borne them personally as we have had to go back and forth from our home in Gaza to Egypt for my wife’s medical treatment.

But though there was a loosening of the restrictions since the fall of Egypt’s Mubarak regime, 1.6 million residents in Gaza now face the return of the tight closure imposed on their movement since 2007, as Israel, the occupying power, works with Egypt to impose a tight siege on the area.

Punishing Palestinians for electing Hamas

Israel claimed that the siege was necessary because Hamas, in power in Gaza, represented a threat; meanwhile Egypt bowed to international pressure by shutting down Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. The goal was in fact the same — to tighten the siege on Gaza to make Hamas’ rule unviable, even though it had won an election in 2006.

Egypt then contended that the Rafah crossing terminal should operate according to the terms of the 2005 “Agreement on Movement and Access” brokered by the United States. This agreement required the presence of European Union “observers” who acted as Israel’s eyes, ears and hands, and the forces of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

However, Hamas’ election victory has changed the rules of the political game, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who need to be able to move in and out of Gaza have been the victims.

Instead of welcoming one of the rare democratic exercises in in the Arab world, years before the Arab uprisings that have, so far, led to the fall of long-time rulers in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt itself, the so-called international community imposed a boycott on the Palestinians to punish them for the result.

A year and a half after Hamas won legislative elections in both Gaza and the West Bank — declared free and fair by international monitors — Hamas and the western-backed Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, architect of the Oslo Agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, engaged in a brief civil war.

Abbas’ forces aimed to prevent Hamas from gaining hegemony despite their election victory, while Hamas wanted to consolidate its control and prevent what it saw as a coup against its legitimate authority.

In June 2007, the conflict reached a climax, and Hamas ousted the forces loyal to Abbas and established sole control in the interior of Gaza. This only led Israel and its international allies to tighten the siege and closure.

In 2008, Israel declared Gaza — of which it is still legally the occupying power — a “hostile entity” that is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel.

Gaza — a hostile entity? Half of the population are children and more than a million are registered refugees with UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and are dependent on regular food aid.

Taking back their Dignity

The civilian population of Gaza were “stripped of their dignity” and plunged into a “struggle to survive,” in the words of former UNRWA chief John Ging.

Just months before Ging uttered those words, Palestinians blew up the border wall with Egypt and hundreds of thousands of Gazans burst through it seeking basic supplies, to rejoin family members, to seek urgent medical treatment, and to take back their stolen dignity.

For a few days, the Arab Republic of Egypt — under its president and main US ally, Hosni Mubarak — had no choice but to allow the people of Gaza to cross the border into nearby Egyptian towns.

Mubarak apparently did not understand the message delivered by the Palestinian crowds, and reimposed the closure of the border with Gaza. Palestinians invented their own means of breaking the siege — digging underground tunnels that became, until now, the mainstay of the economy.

Mubarak's Overthrow Offered Hope

Meanwhile, the Rafah crossing terminal remained closed until just after February 2011, when Mubarak was toppled by a great popular uprising.

In May 2011, Palestinians from Gaza, including patients, students and men over the age of 40 and those with residency permits in Egypt or in some other Arab countries began to move in and out of Gaza through Rafah as restrictions were eased. Since then, tens of thousands of Gazans have enjoyed the fruits of the Egyptian Spring, and some of their dignity appears to have been restored.

In June, Egyptians elected Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood party as president. Morsi spoke of further easing restrictions and supplying more desperately-needed electricity to Gaza. In July, the new Egyptian president met Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, the highest-level meeting for Gaza’s rulers since their election, which was made possible only by the uprising of the Egyptian people.

Haniyeh returned to the Gaza Strip from Cairo through the Rafah crossing, filled with hope and expectation to the extent that some Hamas leaders in Gaza hinted at the possibility of establishing a free trade zone on the Gaza-Egypt border line, which would eliminate the need for the current tunnel economy.

Hopes Dashed by Sinai Attack

All these hopes — shared by Gaza’s population — were swiftly dashed in the aftermath of the 5 August attack during Ramadan by unknown gunmen that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai near the border with Gaza.

Despite no evidence that the attackers came from Gaza, no history of such attacks by Palestinians against Egyptians, and widespread condemnation from the Palestinian people, leaders and political factions in reaction to this attack, Egyptian media and some authorities began quickly pointing the finger at Gaza. Egypt shut down the Rafah crossing and moved to shut down the underground tunnels that have been a lifeline.

Many Egyptian media outlets and officials said to be affiliated with the Egyptian regime launched an anti-Hamas campaign, accusing elements from the Gaza Strip of involvement in the terrorist attack.

Until the findings of ongoing investigations into the attack are revealed, the people of Gaza, especially patients in need of medical care, will again lose their dignity that has been stolen for more than five years. Some may lose their lives.

New Restrictions?

Media reports from Gaza suggest that more than 40,000 registered travelers, including patients, students and those with residency permits in Arab countries, are unable to get out of the tiny coastal enclave after Egypt ordered new restrictions on travel for their Palestinian brothers and sisters. From now on, Rafah will be open for no more than 1,000 travelers each working day.

Other media reports suggested that more than 10,000 Israelis and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship recently managed to cross into the Sinai peninsula through the Taba crossing at the Egyptian-Israeli border — into the same Sinai desert area where the attacks happened — to enjoy the weekend and Eid holidays at Red Sea resorts.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza watch and continue to ask: who is hijacking our dignity?

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.


Ron Paul fans slam new rules by Republican leadership

Maine delegate and Ron Paul supporter, Pete Harring, shouts as he walks out of the hall in disgust over not being seated at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, on August 28, 2012.

Source: Press TV

Most of the supporters of the Texas congressman, Ron Paul, have walked out of the Republican National Convention to voice their strong protest against new rules by the Republican leadership.

At the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday, Paul’s supporters booed and shouted several times after failing to overturn a ruling that removed half of Maine’s delegates who had pledged to support Ron Paul, The New York Times reported.

The protest centered on resistance by Paul’s supporters and other grassroots Republican activists to the Romney campaign’s rule changes.

They say that the attempt tightens the Republican party’s rules that give candidates more control over delegates assigned to them during primaries for the national convention.

“It's a disgusting, disgusting display of a hostile takeover from the top down," Ashley Ryan, a 21-year-old Maine delegate, said. "It's an embarrassment."

Paul did not win a single state; however, his zealous followers worked local and state party rules to take over several state delegations, including garnering 20 of Maine's 24 spots.

The RNC decided to replace 10 of them, effectively stopping the state from being able to submit Paul's name for nomination.

That decision along with others prompted Wiselet Rouzard, a delegate from Nevada and a Paul supporter, to compare the situation to Adolf Hitler taking power in Germany.

"There's nothing American about what just happened," he said. "This is the death of the Republican Party."

After serving in Congress for more than two decades, 77-year-old Paul will end his political career in January when his term ends .


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Can Fukushima's Spent Fuel Pools Catch Fire?

In this Fairewinds’ feature, Fairewinds Associates Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen analyzes a US government national laboratory simulation video that shows nuclear spent fuel rods do catch fire when exposed to air.

This simulation video proves Fairewinds’ assertions that nuclear fuel rods can catch fire when exposed to air, and Arnie discusses the ramifications of this phenomena if the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 spent fuel pool were to lose cooling water.

The Sandia National Laboratories video in its entirety can be seen here.


Arnie Gundersen: Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and today I would like to talk to you about fuel pool fires: are they possible, what causes them and what are the consequences. Related to that is why is everybody focused on Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 4. Before I get into the details, I need to go back and touch on a couple of basics. Inside a nuclear reactor, uranium splits and when it splits, it gives off 95% of the heat. That is what makes nuclear fission so neat is that one atom can give off an incredible amount of heat. The problem is that 5% of the heat remains in these pieces called fission products. That heat gradually decays away over 5 years, but for at least 5 years, these pieces, these fission products, have to be cooled. That part of the reaction does not occur in the nuclear reactor, it occurs in the spent fuel pool. Remember now, that the uranium is in a pellet, about the size of my pinkie, and these pellets are put into about 12 foot long rods. The rods are made of a material called zircaloy and that is the problem. Zircaloy can burn in air if it gets hot enough. And it is called pyrophoric, so when it starts to burn, water cannot put out the combustion.

Now these pellets and rods are put into bundles. The bundles are about that big and 12 feet high. And those bundles are then lifted out of the nuclear reactor and put into the spent fuel pool. Now we know zircaloy can burn. Back in April of 2011, Fairewinds put a video up where we showed a single zircaloy rod burning in air. And on that video, you can actually see the piece of zircaloy bouncing across the table top. And it was combusting on it's own, there was no flame, and it was basically burning in air with no internal source of heat.

The question is, can that happen in a nuclear fuel pool? And what is it about Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 4 that has everyone concerned? There are 4 reactors in jeopardy at Fukushima-Daiichi. But everyone's attention now has been focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 4. Why is that? Well, in the Mark I design, there is no containment over the fuel pool. And that means that if there is a problem in the fuel pool, there is nothing to trap the radiation and prevent it from going airborne. At Fukushima-Daiichi, Unit 4 though, an entire nuclear fuel core had just recently been removed from the containment, from the nuclear reactor, and was put into the spent fuel pool. That is what makes Daiichi Unit 4 unique. It has got an entire nuclear core, out of the reactor, out of the containment, and in the fuel pool. Related to that though, is the fact that Fukushima-Daiichi 4 is also damaged. There is a bulge in the bottom of it and I believe it is something called a first mode Euler strut bulge. And it clearly is an indication of a seismic damage. This is not something that happened from the explosion. The building has been damaged from a seismic event. So Daiichi Unit 4 has an entire nuclear core out of the containment in a spent fuel pool and the building it is housed in, has been previously damaged by the explosions in the building and by the seismic events that occurred since March 11th of 2011. That is why all eyes in the world are focussed on what is going on in Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wanted to know if a fuel bundle can burn in air too. And they commissioned Sandia National Labs to run a test. Just by coincidence, the test was done about 2 weeks before the Fukushima-Daiichi accident. Now this was a test of a nuclear fuel bundle, but I need to be clear: there was no spent nuclear fuel in the bundle. The heat from the pellets was simulated using electric resistance heaters, pretty similar to what you have got inside your toaster. So, this was a test to create the same amount of heat that the fuel pellets would create, but it was done with electricity, not with spent nuclear fuel. Other than that though, the fuel bundle was identical to the bundle that is in a nuclear fuel pool.

Now, this is a 5 hour video that we've condensed down to about 1 minute. The screenshots that we've taken for this show, in the upper left, a picture of a fuel bundle with wires going into it - that's the electricity - that's designed to heat the fuel and wires coming out - those are monitoring wires. And, on the far right, is top to bottom looking at the fuel bundle from the side. There's an enormous amount of data collected in these 5 hours and all of it is on the Sandia site which we linked to/from the Fairewinds site. The first video shows a bundle immediately before the heat was applied. Shortly after, it's the same bundle, the heat is on, and it's already beginning to smoke. A little further on is the bundle, again, smoking considerably. Well, where's there smoke there is fire. The last one in the sequence shows the bundle on fire. Now, what you're seeing is zircaloy burning in air. There was no match applied to start this fire, it just got hot enough so that it began to combust of its own volition - in air.

Just to be clear one last time, that was a simulated test we just watched using electricity in place of spent nuclear fuel. But it is clear that a single nuclear fuel bundle can burn in air. Now Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 4 would be even worse. Inside Daiichi's fuel pool, are 1500 fuel bundles, not one, 1500 fuel bundles, 300 of which are just removed from the nuclear core. So instead of one very hot bundle, we have got 300 very hot bundles.

Now it is even worse than that. The Japanese put all of their nuclear fuel from this latest core offload in a very confined space in the pool. In America, we do not do that. We call it checker-boarding. We will put hot nuclear fuel next to cold nuclear fuel in a checkerboard pattern so that there is a gap between them. But the Japanese did not do that. This entire nuclear core is side by side by side with other physically hot bundles.

So, is a fuel pool fire possible at Fukushima-Daiichi? We have got the video evidence to show it is. What can make it happen is the real question.

In early July, the fuel pool cooling system failed at Fukushima-Daiichi. Both the primary pump and the back-up pump failed and for a period of several days, there was no water circulating in the fuel pool. During those days, the pool began to heat up and it heated up at about 18 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Centigrade every day. This is a huge pool, it is 300,000 gallons of water. And to think about 300,000 gallons of water heating up at 18 degrees a day gives you a feel for the amount of heat that is in that pool. So after about a week, the pool would begin to boil, and after about another week, the pool would begin to boil to the point where the top of the nuclear fuel was exposed. And an event like we saw on the Sandia Labs video would indeed become possible.

So the Japanese have about 2 weeks in the event of the fuel pool cooling system fails to fix it. I do not think that that will be a problem. I think they could fix almost every cooling problem in two weeks.

The real problem is if there is an earthquake. The building is already structurally damaged and if the pool were to drain from an earthquake, then all bets are off. There is no way to cool the pool and we know that the heat source is astronomical. The fuel in the pool would catch fire, and the uranium that is then encased in the zircaloy, would go airborne.

Brookhaven National Labs did a study back in 1998 about this and they estimate that over 180,000 cancers would result from a fuel pool fire and that an area of about 40 mile radius would have to be permanently evacuated. Now the Brookhaven study had less uranium in it than the Fukushima fuel pool. So the odds are that if a fuel pool fire were to occur at Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 4, it would, in fact, be worse than the Brookhaven study.

Regardless of what the nuclear industry claims, a fuel pool fire is possible if the water were to drain from a seismic event. Now this is not just a Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 4 problem. There are 23 Mark I reactors in the United States and they have even more nuclear fuel in them than Unit 4 at Fukushima-Daiichi. This is an international problem, especially in the United States, because we have the most of these Mark I reactors. What can we do about it? We can put the pressure on Tokyo Electric and on the Japanese Government to get the fuel out of that pool just as quickly as possible. We cannot wait for an earthquake to be proven right or wrong. In the United States, we can demand that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission take the fuel out of these fuel pools in the 23 nuclear reactors that are identical to Fukushima-Daiichi. Right now, industry pressure to save money is preventing those fuel pools from being emptied.

Fairewinds Energy Education has tried to bring forward several really important worldwide technical issues since the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi. One of them is the condition of spent fuel pools in the Mark I design.

This August, again, we are asking for your help to continue with our energy education efforts. Maggie and I take nothing from Fairewinds Energy Education. But it does cost money to produce these videos and to do the research and development that support the videos. We are very grateful for the donations we have received so far, and we would appreciate your considering a donation now in August again, so we can continue into the future.

Thank you very much. I will keep you informed.

Netanyahu's Secret War Plan: Leaked Document Outlines Israel's "Shock and Awe" Plan to Attack Iran

By: Richard Silverstein

Source: Global Research

In the past few days, I received an Israeli briefing document outlining Israel’s war plans against Iran. The document was passed to me by a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer. My source, in fact, wrote to me that normally he would not leak this sort of document, but:

“These are not normal times. I’m afraid Bibi and Barak are dead serious.”

The reason they leaked it is to expose the arguments and plans advanced by the Bibi-Barak two-headed warrior. Neither the IDF leaker, my source, nor virtually any senior military or intelligence officer wants this war. While whoever wrote this briefing paper had use of IDF and intelligence data, I don’t believe the IDF wrote it. It feels more likely it came from the shop of national security advisor Yaakov Amidror, a former general, settler true-believer and Bibi confidant. It could also have been produced by Defense Minister Barak, another pro-war booster.

I’ve translated the document from Hebrew with the help of Dena Shunra.

Before laying out the document, I wanted to place it in context. If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that after Bibi’s IDF service he became the marketing director for a furniture company. Recent revelations have suggested that he may have also served in some capacity either formally or informally in the Mossad during that period.

This document is a more sophisticated version of selling bedroom sets and three-piece sectionals. The only difference is that this marketing effort could lead to the death of thousands.

This is Bibi’s sales pitch for war. Its purpose is to be used in meetings with members of the Shminiya , the eight-member security cabinet which currently finds a 4-3 majority opposed to an Iran strike. Bibi uses this sales pitch to persuade the recalcitrant ministers of the cool, clean, refreshing taste of war. My source informs me that it has also been shared in confidence with selected journalists who are in the trusted inner media circle (who, oh who, might they be?).

This is Shock and Awe, Israel-style. It is Bibi’s effort to persuade high-level Israeli officials that Israel can prosecute a pure technology war that involves relatively few human beings (Israeli, that is) who may be put in harm’s way, and will certainly cost few lives of IDF personnel.

Bibi’s sleight of hand here involves no mention whatsoever of an Iranian counter-attack against Israel. The presumption must be that the bells and whistles of all those marvelous new weapons systems will decapitate Iran’s war-making ability and render it paralyzed. The likelihood of this actually happening is nearly nil.

There will be those who will dispute the authenticity of this document. I’m convinced it is what my source claims, based on his prior track record and the level of specificity offered in the document. It references cities by name and the facilities they contain. It names new weapons systems including one Israel supposedly hasn’t even shared with the U.S.

No, it’s real. Or I should say that while it’s real, it is the product of the Israeli dream factory which manufactures threats and then creates fabulist military strategies to address them. The dream factory always breaks the hearts of the families of those whose members fall victim to it. It never produces the result it promises, nor will it do so here.

Remember Bush-era Shock and Awe? Remember those promises of precision-guided cruise missiles raining death upon Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? Remember Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” ceremony on the deck of the USS Lincoln, only six or seven years premature? Remember the promises of decisive victory? Remember 4,000 U.S. dead, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

Now, think of what an Israeli war against Iran could turn into. Think about how this sanitized version of 21st century war could turn into a protracted, bloody conflict closer to the nine-year Iran-Iraq War:

The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack which will totally paralyze the Iranian regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders. The internet, telephones, radio and television, communications satellites, and fiber optic cables leading to and from critical installations—including underground missile bases at Khorramabad and Isfahan—will be taken out of action. The electrical grid throughout Iran will be paralyzed and transformer stations will absorb severe damage from carbon fiber munitions which are finer than a human hair, causing electrical short circuits whose repair requires their complete removal. This would be a Sisyphean task in light of cluster munitions which would be dropped, some time-delayed and some remote-activated through the use of a satellite signal.

A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran. 300km ballistic missiles would be launched from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. The missiles would not be armed with unconventional warheads [WMD], but rather with high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets.

The missiles will strike their targets—some exploding above ground like those striking the nuclear reactor at Arak–which is intended to produce plutonium and tritium—and the nearby heavy water production facility; the nuclear fuel production facilities at Isfahan and facilities for enriching uranium-hexaflouride. Others would explode under-ground, as at the Fordo facility.

A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound command and control systems, research and development facilities, and the residences of senior personnel in the nuclear and missile development apparatus. Intelligence gathered over years will be utilized to completely decapitate Iran’s professional and command ranks in these fields.

After the first wave of attacks, which will be timed to the second, the “Blue and White” radar satellite, whose systems enable us to perform an evaluation of the level of damage done to the various targets, will pass over Iran. Only after rapidly decrypting the satellite’s data, will the information be transferred directly to war planes making their way covertly toward Iran. These IAF planes will be armed with electronic warfare gear previously unknown to the wider public, not even revealed to our U.S. ally. This equipment will render Israeli aircraft invisible. Those Israeli war planes which participate in the attack will damage a short-list of targets which require further assault.

Among the targets approved for attack—Shihab 3 and Sejil ballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components of rocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile control systems, centrifuge production plants and more.

While the level of specificity in this document is, in some senses, impressive, in one critical aspect it is deficient. Muhammad Sahimi points out that the current chief of the Revolutionary Guards, when he assumed his position in 2007, deliberately addressed the issue of over-centralization of command and control by dividing the nation into 31 districts. Each of these has its own independent command and control facilities and mechanisms. So Israel wouldn’t be able to knock out a single facility and paralyze the IRG. They’d need to knock out 31 separate sets of facilities–a much harder task.

There seems also to be an assumption that Iran’s leaders and nuclear specialists live nice domestic lives and that Israeli intelligence knows where they all live and can easily target them. In truth, the most senior Iranian military and scientific figures live clandestine lives and it’s hard for me to believe even the Mossad knows where they are and how to target them.

So it appears that Netanyahu believes he’s fighting Saddam circa 2003. During that war, the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards were centralized and knocking out one C&C center could decapitate the entire military apparatus. But Iran has learned from Saddam’s mistakes. It isn’t fighting the last war as Bibi appears to be. It is preparing for the next one. While Israel may have new tricks up its sleeve that no one in the world has yet seen, if it doesn’t understand the nature of the enemy, its defenses, its structure, etc. then it can’t win.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Americas bloc takes UK threats to Ecuador for international discussion

Source: Russia Today

British threats to invade Ecuador’s embassy will be discussed at international-level talks between the foreign ministers of the Organization of American States. The proposal was adopted despite the US saying OAS has nothing to do with the issue.

­Ecuador’s resolution to convene a meeting of the OAS member nations' foreign ministers was adopted with 23 voting in favor, three against and five abstentions.

The US and Canada were among those who opposed the measure, stating that the dispute over Assange's fate is a bilateral matter between Ecuador and the United Kingdom, and should not be dragged to the international table.

The US State Department stated earlier on Friday that the OAS has “no role” to play in a “bilateral issue between Ecuador and the United Kingdom.” Not party to the 1954 OAS Convention on Diplomatic Asylum, the United States “does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law,” the statement read.

The foreign ministers of the bloc's thirty-five member states will convene at the OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC, on August 24.

A special meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States was held on Thursday and Friday. The bloc discussed Ecuador’s proposal to arrange a ministerial meeting of the member states to address the issue as a matter of international law.

Ecuador called for an emergency OAS meeting after it received a memorandum from the UK that included a threat of an assault on the country’s London embassy to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was seeking political asylum there, if he is not handed over to the British authorities. The contents of the letter were revealed the day before Ecuador publicly announced its decision to grant Assange political asylum.

While the UK maintains that it has a right to extract Assange from Ecuador’s embassy, the Latin American country says any entry by British authorities onto its ambassadorial premises to arrest Assange would constitute a violation of Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

On Thursday, British Foreign Minister William Hague said that the UK "remains committed” to its obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden, and that the Ecuadorian government's decision will not change anything as Assange's diplomatic immunity is not recognized by the UK.

Ecuador promised to pursue all legal avenues, including an appeal to the International Criminal Court, if the UK refuses to grant Assange safe passage from the country.

But as long as London refuses to give him safe passage, Assange will stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy, the country’s president Rafael Correa said in a radio interview on Friday. Correa asserted that Ecuador won’t hand Assange over to the UK authorities as there is no legal basis for such demands.

In search of regional support, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino also called on the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) to hold meetings with a similar agenda.

The ALBA countries responded to the call with a statement expressing their solidarity with Ecuador and a “most resounding rejection” of the UK's threats against the country. According to a press release published by Ecuador, the ALBA governments warned Britain of “the serious and irreversible consequences the execution of these threats would have on the political, economic and cultural relations” with its member countries.

The executive secretary of the ALBA, Rodolfo Sanz, confirmed that an emergency meeting on the issue would take place on Saturday. Sanz said the majority of ALBA member states support Ecuador and believe the UK authorities should recognize Assange's political asylum status in full accordance to the international law.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Iran war: Countdown to Israel doomsday

An Iranian long-range Shahab-3 missile being launched during the second day of military exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-7 July 3, 2012

Source: Press TV

“Why on earth is the Zionist regime making threats against Iran? How many missiles have they prepared themselves for? 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000 or more?"

These words were expressed in full force on November 27, 2011 by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi.

He warned Tel Aviv that "If the Zionist regime ever decides to carry out its threats against Iran, the Basij forces will exact revenge on the entity for its long span of bullying oppressed nations.”

There is a recently renewed call for military strike on Iranian nuclear sites on the part of the Zionist regime. It is reported that the voices coming from the offices of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak about Iran are “worrisome.”

Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer says that Iran strike spells security and financial crisis and that the entity is gearing to deal with recession.

“The primary responsibility of each country is to maintain its security. It is possible to describe situations of widespread war which would be very difficult to deal with. We are preparing for a major crisis and for security situation which is much worse,” Fischer said in an interview with Channel 2 News on Friday.

Saudi Arabia has warned Israel that it would shoot down any Israeli fighter jets that enter its airspace en route to an attack on Iran. However, other sources says Riyadh might allow Israeli jets to enter its airspace if Israel coordinates the military strike with Washington and does not embark on military strike unilaterally.

More to the point, Western presstitute media have ratcheted up an anti-Iran campaign at the behest of their Zionist masters with the express intention of rending any possible Israeli strike on Iran legitimate in the eyes of the western community. In line with this satanic policy and in order to add fuel to fire, Reuters reported that “Iran has stepped up work to develop a nuclear warhead,” quoting Israeli newspapers as saying on Sunday.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak shamelessly lied to the media and said that US President Barack Obama had received a new National Intelligence Estimate to the effect that Iran had made significant and surprising progress toward military nuclear capability. However, US officials said on Thursday the United States still believes that Iran is not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon and that Tehran has not made a decision to pursue one.

A White House National Security Council spokesman refuted the Israeli reports, saying the US intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear activities had not changed since earlier this year.

"We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government," the spokesman said. "We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon."

Unfortunately, the international community is prone to forget that Israel is the thieving entity and that it is an irresponsible regime with a huge arsenal of at least 300 nuclear warheads at its disposal. It is excruciatingly manifest that the nuclear reality of Israel and what immeasurable destruction it can wreak on the entire region and the world are often consigned to oblivion and any suggestion to that effect is brushed away with a gesture of nonchalance. Ironically, global ignorance is turned into an asset for the Israeli regime in order to carry on or out with its threats against Iran.

In fact, what torments the Israeli officials tremendously is that Iran is paying no attention to the US-orchestrated illegal sanctions. Iran believes that the sanctions are like obstacles placed on its path by ill wishers and that they have to be overcome in one way or another. In other words, Iran stands tall against the bullies and their heavy-handed tactics. That is why the Israeli top echelons have taken recourse to lies and rumors about the country.

From a military point of view, Iran is an extremely powerful country. In July, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired indigenous missiles in a three-day military drill codenamed The Great Prophet 7.

A number of missiles were test-fired including Shahab (Meteor) 1, 2, 3, Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf), Tondar (Lightning), Fateh (Victor) and Zelzal (earthquake) as well as Qiam (Uprising).

The Pentagon has recently confessed to the “lethality and effectiveness” of Iranian missiles, saying that Tehran is a “formidable force” in defending its territory.

According to a June 29 report by the Pentagon, “Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new submunition payloads” that “extend the destructive power over a wider area than a solid warhead.”

Signed by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the report had been submitted to the four US congressional defense committees to comply with a 2010 directive to provide an annual classified and unclassified assessment of Iran’s military power.

Be that as it may, Iran’s prodigious military capabilities, as it has often pointed out, are defensive and will only be used against aggressors and those who threaten the country’s territorial integrity.

But if Israel ever ventures into a military strike against Iran, it must ask itself this question first: how many Iranian missiles can the Zionist entity take 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000 or more?

Egypt’s president selects new defense minister, retires top commander

Former Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has appointed a new defense minister and vice president, cancelling a constitutional declaration issued by the military restricting presidential powers.

On Sunday, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi was replaced as defense minister with Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Morsi also ordered the retirement of military chief of staff Sami Anan, replacing him with Sedqi Sobhi Sayyid Ahmed.

Mahmoud Makki, a former judge, was also appointed vice president.

Last week, Morsi sacked the country’s intelligence chief, the Republican Guard commander and the head of the military police days after gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards at a checkpoint near Egypt’s border with Israel.

The Egyptian president also fired Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, the governor of North Sinai, where the deadly attack took place.

The moves seem to be in response to the deadly violence at Egypt's border with Israel.

Under a constitutional declaration issued on June 17, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which assumed power following the ouster of the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, took control of the state budget and gave itself veto power over a new constitution, diminishing president’s powers.

Morsi was elected president on June 24 in a runoff against Ahmed Shafiq, who had served as Mubarak's last prime minister.

Israeli military occupies parts of Egypt’s Sinai, reports say

Reports say the Israeli military has occupied parts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. (File photo)

Source: Press TV

The military forces of the Israeli regime have occupied parts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula amid tension in the Egyptian territory, reports say.

The Israeli forces crossed the Egyptian border and entered Sinai Desert during the early hours of August 11, and advanced a few hundred meters.

Israeli media outlets have confirmed the presence of the troops in the area quoting a spokesperson of the Israeli army, but Egyptian officials denied possibility of Israeli forces entering their territory.

The Sinai Peninsula belongs to Egypt and the Tel Aviv regime claims it has moved its forces into the Egyptian territory to counter armed groups and the flood of African migrants into the occupied Palestinian territories.

Human rights activists in Israel have condemned the recent measures taken by the Israeli military against the African migrants, who have been the target of violent attacks by Israelis in the past weeks.

The Israeli regime announced on June 3 that migrants who crossed into the occupied Palestinian territories illegally could face up to three years of detention.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the Israeli regime for the new piece of legislation, saying Tel Aviv “punishes asylum seekers for irregularly crossing into Israel, in violation of their basic rights.”

The latest development in Egypt’s Sinai comes a few days after unknown gunmen killed 16 border security guards and injured several others in Egypt near the Sinai border with Israel on August 5.

Turkey's interference in Syria, blow to Erdogan’s political future: Iran MP

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Source: Press TV

The government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has put its political future on a knife edge by propping up insurgent groups in Syria, an Iranian lawmaker says.

Ebrahim Aqa-Mohammadi, a member of Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, on Saturday pointed to Tehran-Ankara amiable relations, adding, “I advise Mr. Erdogan and his friends not to engage in this issue; undoubtedly, in Turkey’s future elections, Erdogan’s party will be the victim of such matters.”

He urged Turkey to respect friendly ties with Iran and Syria as its neighbors and not to endanger Iran’s interests by supporting “a bunch of thugs and murderers” in Syria.

Damascus has accused several regional countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding and supplying weapons to armed gangs in the country.

On Tuesday, more than 100 Turkish troops armed with thermal rockets and sophisticated weaponry on briefly entered the town of Cerablos in Syria’s Kurdish region of Kobani.

Aqa-Mohammadi pointed to the kidnapping of Iranian pilgrims in Syria by the insurgent groups, adding, “The abduction of Iranian pilgrims is an inhuman action which is carried out by the support of the US, EU and some of the regional countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

On August 4, Syrian insurgents abducted 48 Iranian pilgrims who were traveling on a bus from Damascus International Airport to the shrine of Hazrat Zeinab (AS).

“All these measures are aimed at putting the Islamic Republic of Iran under pressure to make it stop its support for the legitimate government in Syria,” the Iranian legislator pointed out.

Syria has been the scene of deadly unrest since mid-March, 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on August 1 that the country is engaged in a ''crucial and heroic'' battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hillary Clinton, Turkish leaders to consider no-fly zones for Syria

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before their meeting in Istanbul.(REUTERS / Handout)

Source: Russia Today

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are considering implementing no-fly zones for Syria after holding Saturday talks in Istanbul.

­According to Reuters, Clinton said that Ankara and Washington need to plan ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad – including possibly implementing a no-fly zone.

During an interview with reporters, Clinton indicated the no-fly zone was a possible option, but said the issue needed “greater in-depth analysis.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the US used its power to aid opposition forces. The same tactic was used to help Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Until now, the US has been reluctant to take on a military role in Syria. But if the Libyan situation repeats itself, US military intervention could be a real possibility in the near future – only serving to escalate Syria’s 17-month-old conflict.

During the meeting, Clinton also said a working group will be set up in Turkey to respond to the Syrian crisis, according to AP.

The group would increase the involvement of the intelligence services and militaries of both the US and Turkey.

“We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. It needs to be across both of our governments,” Clinton said.

Clinton is also scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul – both of whom support the Syrian opposition movement.

The US is aiming to lay groundwork for democratic transition in Syria.

The meeting comes as reports of violence were taking place in Damascus.

Earlier on Saturday, Syrian state TV reported that gunmen abducted three Syrian journalists and their driver, who work for a pro-government TV station, while covering violence in a suburb of Damascus.

According to Middle Eastern history and politics Professor Jeremy Salt, the opposition has little hope of winning the conflict without the help of its Western allies.

“As of now, Damascus has mostly been cleared of rebels. Aleppo on its way to being cleared. We can see that the army has a strategy here. It cleared out the Salah al-Din district within two days, and now it’s working its way through other suburbs. So unless the rebels get more support in terms of heavy weaponry, they are very much fighting on the back foot. So that’s why Hillary Clinton is in Istanbul. To ask the basic question, ‘What’s next?’” Salt told RT.

Meanwhile, opposition fighters are still struggling to gain control of Aleppo – a key battle city.

Rebels in Aleppo say they are preparing a counterattack against government forces, after heavy bombardment forced them to withdraw from the south-west district of Salah al-Din on Thursday.

Aleppo is the cause of serious concern for Western countries, Foreign Affairs Analyst Richard Heydarian told RT.

“The West is smelling blood right now because of the recent events, including the fleeing of the prime minister. What the Clinton administration [sic] is trying to do right now is try to coordinate some sort of military approach with Turkey and possibly also with the help of Israel and other Atab countries because they feel the opposition has a chance to retain its stronghold in Aleppo,” Heydarian said.

Turkey, however, has its own motivations for taking part in the meeting. The country is dealing with a growing humanitarian crisis of its own, as it struggles to support 50,000 Syrian refugees who have fled into the country.

Clinton has announced an extra US$5.5 million in help for displaced Syrians in Turkey.

“Turkey has two sides to this. On the one hand, it is very much concerned with the tragedy and a lot of Syrians flowing in – it is one of the biggest recipients of refugees from Syria. On the other hand – it is a possible rise of Kurdish insurgency – and there is coordination between Kurds in Syria and Iran. Turkey fears Kurds could launch its own independence campaign against Turkey,” Heydarian said.

Turkish demonstrators condemn Clinton visit to Istanbul

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Source: Press TV

Turkish demonstrators have marched to the US Embassy in Turkey to condemn a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Istanbul.

Police used batons to disperse the demonstrators outside the embassy in the capital, Ankara.

Clinton arrived in Turkey on Saturday for talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the situation in Syria.

Washington and Ankara repeated calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

The US secretary of state and the Turkish foreign minister held a joint press conference in Istanbul on Saturday.

Clinton said Washington will "hasten the end of… the Assad regime," adding the US is worried about the presence of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Syria along the Turkish border.

"We share Turkey's determination that Syria must not become a haven for PKK terrorists whether now or after the departure of the Assad regime," she said.

The Turkish foreign minister stated that in his meeting with the US secretary of state the two sides discussed the ways of assisting the opposition inside Syria.

"We need to take joint efforts to prevent a power vacuum from being formed," Davutoglu said.

The anti-Syria Western regimes have been calling for the Syrian president to step down.

On June 3, President Assad Syria is "facing a war from abroad" and that the nation is "facing attempts to weaken Syria and breach its sovereignty."

Russian Air Force to receive 180 new fighter jets, copters

File photo shows a Russian-made Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback warplane.

Source: Press TV

Russia’s Air Force Commander in Chief Major General Viktor Bondarev has announced that the country’s aerial warfare service branch will get some 180 brand-new fighter jets and military helicopters by the end of the current year.

“The country’s air force has already received several new Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback warplanes and will get another 12, along with Kamov Ka-52 Alligator and Mil Mi-28 Havoc helicopters, as well as trainer jets including 15 Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten aircraft,” Bondarev said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Friday.

The aircraft to be supplied to the air forces will carry advanced navigation and other equipment and weapons “of significantly higher quality,” he said.

Bondarev noted that some 120 new aircraft joined the Russian air force last year.

The Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback is a twin-seat Russian fighter bomber. It is intended to replace the Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft. It made its first flight on April 13, 1990.The Russian Defense Ministry expects to have 124 Su-34s in service by 2020.

Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is a single-seat Russian attack helicopter with the distinctive coaxial rotor system of the Kamov design bureau.

It was designed in the 1980s and adopted for service in the Russian army in 1995. It is currently manufactured by the Progress company in the eastern city of Arsenyev.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Egypt reopens Rafah crossing after Sinai deadly attack

The Rafah border crossing (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Egypt has reopened the Rafah border crossing, shut after 16 Egyptian border guards were killed during an attack in the Sinai Peninsula.

The move came on Friday, a day after Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, urged Cairo to reopen the vital border crossing.

“I call upon my brother, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to open the Rafah crossing, to regain a lifeline for Gaza,” Reuters quoted democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as saying on Thursday.

“Gaza could never be anything but a source of stability for Egypt,” Haniyeh added.

Egypt closed the Rafah crossing after an attack on a security checkpoint in Sinai, which left at least 16 Egyptian border guards dead and seven others injured on Sunday night.

On Monday, an official statement by the Islamic resistance movement condemned the attack and dismissed the idea that militants from inside Gaza may have been involved.

Some 800 people normally leave for Egypt and beyond through the Rafah crossing, the only passageway leading to the rest of the world for most Gazans.

Israel imposed an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade of the Gaza in June 2007 after the democratically-elected Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas took over the administration of the territory.

The siege has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished enclave, having turned the territory into the world’s largest open-air prison.

Impoverished Palestinians are forced to use underground tunnels to bring in essential supplies including food, fuel and medicine.

The Rafah crossing is the Palestinian territory's only crossing outside Israeli control.

Sinai rejoins anti-Israeli resistance front

Israeli troops near border with Egypt's Sinai desert on June 18, 2012.

Source: Press TV

The Sinai Peninsula has rejoined the Arab and Islamic Resistance as this great awakening spreads inexorably across the region toppling, Western imposed security states and replacing them with governments of greater popular legitimacy.

Egypt and other countries in the region are contributing to righting the historic wrong done to the Palestinian people as millions around the World are employing an increasing variety of resistance strategies in solidarity with this region’s central cause of liberating Palestine from the crumbling but ultra-violent Zionist colonial project.

Historically, the 23,000 sq. mile triangular Sinai Peninsula has been an area of Resistance against a series of occupiers and despots since it was joined to Egypt during in Mamluk Sultanate (1260-1517) when the Ottoman sultan, Selim the Grim, won the Battles of Marj Dabiq and al-Raydaniyya, and added Egypt to the Ottoman Empire.

Following the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty's rule over the rest of Egypt in 1805, the Ottoman Porte, faced with increasing resistance from Sinai, transferred administration of the restive Peninsula to the Egyptian government, by this time under the control of the colonial power, the United Kingdom. The British occupied Egypt since 1882 and imposed the border in an almost straight line from Rafah on the Mediterranean to Taba on the Gulf of Aqaba which has remained the eastern border of Egypt. At the beginning of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Egyptian forces invaded Palestine from Sinai to support the Palestinian Resistance in their struggle against the imposed entity of Israel.

Last week’s Sinai operation by “terrorists in Bedouin clothing” against the occupiers of Palestine resulted in the deaths of 16 Egyptian guards protecting the Israeli border as well as several of the Fedayeen, signals again that the Sinai Peninsula has returned to its historic role in confronting colonialism on Egypt’s border. The Egyptian people, if not yet fully their leaders, are returning to their historic struggle to liberate Palestine.

The regime of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would purposefully undermine the relationship between the Egyptian and Palestinian people. However, over the past 18 months, much of the Sinai has become more Resistance oriented, as police stations in the Sinai were dismantled, the gas line with Israel repeated severed, and Bedouin tribes and others began to stockpile weapons arriving from Libya and from Israel’s black market and elsewhere. The area is becoming a major Resistance base with fighters vowing to repel any attempt by the US and Israel to retain control.

No proof positive has been proffered to support a number of claims being made regarding those responsible for the Sinai attacks and other recent attacks against Israeli installations that number more than 30 just since last year’s Tahrir revolution.

A spokesman for the Hamas government has claimed that the Sinai attack was an Israeli “attempt to tamper with Egyptian security and drive a wedge between the Egyptians and the residents of the Gaza Strip.” Tarek Zumar, a spokesman for the group, claimed that Israel was behind all recent terror attacks against the Egyptians “because it wants to make changes along its border with Egypt.” The day after the attack, and relying on its own intelligent sources, Hamas announced that: "This crime can be attributed to the Mossad, which has been seeking to abort the revolution since its inception and the proof of this is that it gave instructions to its Zionist citizens in Sinai to depart immediately a few days ago."

An American critic of Israel’s influence over the US Congress, who is an Assistant Staff Director on a Congressional Committee, emailed that “We are looking into what Israeli leaders knew about the Sinai attack and when they knew it, but no definite responsibility for this operation has been established.” The Muslim Brotherhood has also blamed Mossad for the attack.

One of the reasons the Egyptian public is increasingly calling for abolishing or at least re-negotiating the “Treaty of Shame”, as the Camp David agreement is commonly known, is that Egyptian security forces in Sinai are not enough to protect the borders. Under Camp David’s “Peace Agreement”, it is Israel, and not the Egyptian government who determines how many Egyptians security personnel can stand guard at Egypt’s border.

On 8/4/12, Egypt’s new pro-Palestinian President, Mohamed Morsi, responded to the attack by sacking the pro-Israeli intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, as well as the governor of Northern Sinai Abdel Wahab Mabrouk. The same day, Morsi ordered his defense minister to relieve the head of the country’s military police, as his spokesman said to “turn a page” in the Palestinian struggle and also as a confidence building move in the face of a predicted Zionist campaign to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack. There has been a relentless campaign by Zionist leaders since Mubarak’s ouster, to weaken the Egyptian public’s determination to isolate Israel and cancel their government’s relations with the occupiers of Palestine.

Supporters of Morsi’s rival in the presidential election, Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander, have called for Egyptians to rise up against the Brotherhood and President Morsi as a result of the Sinai operation. Such attacks underscore the divide between new pro-Palestinian government and the military, which continues to hold enormous political power and has limited the president's authority.

The Resistance operation comes only a week after Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh made a rare visit to Egypt to meet with Mohamed Morsi to discuss easing travel restrictions on Gaza imposed by Israel's siege, restrictions respected by Mubarak for years. That meeting, coupled with Morsi meeting both Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month, resulted in the opening the Rafah border for 12 hrs a day and increasing the daily limit on passengers from Gaza to 1,500. By opening the border, Morsi was following through on a campaign promise he made during the run-up to Egypt's hotly contested election. With the advent of the Arab Spring, a number of Egyptian pro Resistance organizations demanded the complete opening of the Rafah crossing to all traffic, including commercial. During his campaign Morsi stated that “the time has come to open the Rafah crossing to traffic 24 hours a day and all year round.”

Unfortunately, following the most recent operation, the Rafah crossing has been indefinitely closed just like it was under the deposed Egyptian president which will cause great hardship to Gazans and amounts to nothing less than Israeli style “collective punishment” as claimed by Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official.

As one Gazan young woman, Rana Baker, a member of the Gaza-based BDS organizing committee recently observed, “It is worth recalling here the official Egyptian stance on the murder of two Egyptian security guards in an Israeli raid along the Israeli-Egyptian border last year. Not one Egyptian helicopter took off in search of the assailants and not one bullet was aimed at “suspects” from the Israeli side. Not only did the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) bury the incident as if it had never happened, but it went as far as to quell Egyptian protestors at the Israeli embassy in Cairo almost a year ago today. Days later, the SCAF erected a high wall around the embassy to “protect” it against “extremists.”

The Gaza Strip has now been closed off, as it was during the time of Hosni Mubarak. The siege is now expected to intensify following the indefinite closure of the Rafah and Karm Abu-Salem border crossings. The siege is now expected to intensify following the indefinite closure of the Rafah and Karm Abu-Salem border crossings.

Robert Satloff , Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), founded by AIPAC, presented the Zionist lobby’s reaction to the Sinai operations and the expanding geography of Resistance. He offered the following suggestions presented on their website and in Lobby publications:

“The US must undertake firm communication to Egypt’s Morsi that if he wants international support to bolster his flagging economy, he cannot pander to the worst instincts of Egyptian public opinion. Indeed, any serious effort to prevent terrorist infiltration in Sinai requires coordination with Israel, and this will not proceed in an environment of public vilification.”

“Second, US policymakers should reaffirm to the Egyptian military that Washington views securing Sinai as an essential aspect of Egyptian-Israeli peace, and that continued provision of substantial military aid, which has exceeded 35 billion over the past three decades, is absolutely contingent on the investment of adequate personnel and resources to do the security job. Failure to direct the right people and resources to the peninsula will trigger an overall reassessment of the US military assistance package, with an eye to updating this 1980s-era relationship for the current environment.”

Satloft’s views are reflective of the vast disconnect between reality and expectations of Zionist officials and their shills, over what the past 18 months has birthed in the Middle East with respect to Resistance to the continuing colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

With the Sinai Peninsula returning to the era and culture of Resistance, the liberation of Palestine draws ever nearer and more certain, perhaps sooner than later.

Syrian insurgents suffer heavy losses as army continues mop-up operations

File photos shows members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army during clashes with government forces in Aleppo’s Salahuddin district

Source: Press TV

The Syrian army has attacked armed groups’ positions across the country, inflicting heavy losses on insurgents fighting against the government.

According to Syrian authorities, the army has inflicted huge losses on armed groups in Aleppo's al-Eda'a and Saif al-Dawla districts on Friday as heavy fighting between government forces and armed groups continues in several other neighborhoods, including Bustan al-Qasr, Halak, Bab al-Hadid and Darat Azzeh.

Syrian troops also located and stormed a warehouse used by insurgents for storing weapons shipped from Turkey. There are also reports that tribes in some districts of Aleppo have joined the army in its fight against armed groups.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops clashed with foreign-backed armed groups in the western city of Homs, Damascus suburb of Manin, and also near the Iraqi and Lebanese borders. Dozens of insurgents were killed during clashes in Manin and a large number of terrorists were injured in Homs.

The Syrian army has launched a mop-up operation against insurgents in the northern city of Aleppo since Wednesday and so far, several districts, including insurgents' stronghold of Salahuddin, have been cleared of terrorist groups.

Foreign-backed armed groups have been carrying out terrorist attacks in Aleppo since July 20 after they were defeated in the capital, Damascus, and were forced to flee.

Some reports suggest that anti-government insurgents operating in Aleppo may have been provided with chemical weapons. The insurgents have also acquired dozens of the portable surface-to-air missiles.

Syria has been the scene of deadly unrest since mid-March, 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on August 1 that the country is engaged in a ''crucial and heroic'' battle that will determine the destiny of the nation .

Turkey Threatens Syria and Iran

Prime Minister Erdogan Slams Assad

By: Mohammad Noureddine
Source: Global Research

By: Mohammad Noureddine posted on Thursday, Aug 9, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unleashed all kinds of condemnations of Syria and Iran. He questioned whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was really a Muslim, which will likely provoke Alawites inside Turkey and abroad. Erdogan also accused Iran of disloyalty, vowing to fight “the enemies of Turkey” until the end.

Following an iftar (Ramadan feast) held the day before yesterday [August 7], Erdogan sent very strong messages to Iran and “the enemies of Turkey.” He said that “the terrorist organization [The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)] is currently in the midst of a battle orchestrated by the enemies of Turkey. However, we will fight the battle against anti-Turkish circles with the highest severity and determination. We will not take a single step back.” Erdogan added that Turkey’s “enemies want to change our priorities.”

Erdogan strongly criticized Iran, saying: “We stood by Iran when no one was at its side. Is it consistent with our beliefs to defend a regime that has killed 25,000 people? The Iranian leadership must first take responsibility for its actions.”

He added: “250,000 Syrians have left the country [Syria]. Is this not the responsibility of Iran? Yet, before Iran takes responsibility for the situation in Syria, it must first hold itself accountable [for its own]. We always take responsibility for our actions.”

Erdogan criticized Assad, asking: “Can we even say that he is a Muslim?”

Erdogan denied interfering in Syria’s internal affairs. He launched an attack on Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People's Party, describing him as part of an anti-Turkey campaign. He said that “just like there is the Baath Party in Syria, there is the Republican People's Party in Turkey.”

Kilicdaroglu said in response that the current state of Turkey is depriving him of sleep.

“I am deeply saddened and concerned. I cannot sleep because of the situation in the country, while the prime minister is happy about it,” he said. “The prime minister is blind if he cannot see the dire situation facing the country. He is extremely detached from the current reality.”

In an article written in Hurriyet, Cengiz Candar slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for its Kurdish policy. He said that the countdown to the fall of Erdogan and the AKP has begun, and whether it will be a soft landing is yet to be seen.

Candar notes that “two conclusions can be made regarding what is happening. First and foremost, Turkish leadership in the region cannot be achieved through the government’s current policy toward the Kurds. Secondly, Turkey cannot hinder the emergence of a new reality in the region involving Kurds and Syrians, and its possible implications in Turkey."

He continues, “We have always stressed that a change in Turkey’s Kurdish policy, as well as its Middle Eastern policy, would positively affect the internal situation. I will say it frankly for the first time: the hopes pinned on the desire and ability of the government to achieve such a change are running out. The new reality will not change the fact that Turkey is facing a dilemma. It is trying to operate in a swamp from which it cannot emerge to build a regional leadership.” Candar adds that “the Kurdish problem cannot be solved through the current policy. On the contrary, the opposite could happen, meaning that the AKP’s authority may gradually disintegrate.”

Candar states that “Mount Erciyes in Turkey is 3,916 meters high. Today, it appears that Erdogan is still at the top of the mountain, but no longer at an altitude of 3,916 meters, he is now at 3,900 meters. His descent has begun and will continue until 2014 [when Erdogan runs for reelection]. But given its pace, which is unprecedented in the history of the Middle East, a smooth landing cannot be guaranteed.

“Turkish authorities have an obligation to change their policy adopted more than a year ago, and must stop using the PKK and terrorism as excuses for their actions. As long as the authorities insist on this policy, we will continue to criticize it,” Candar writes.

In Turkish daily Milliyet, Metin Munir criticized Turkey's sectarian policy toward Syria and the region.

“The government is seeking to gain points through its pro-Sunni and anti-Jewish policies. We have started to pay the price for that. Shortly after the start of the events in Syria, Assad became Turkey’s primary enemy,” he said. “Turkey, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, started to arm and fund Assad's opponents. Turkey did all it could to bring Assad down. It tried to persuade Washington to support intervention in Syria, as it had in Libya. It also maintained that the departure of Assad would be in the interest of Turkey. However, Turkey was not able to achieve this goal. In fact, Assad’s departure is not in the interest of Turkey, but to the contrary. Syria, just like Turkey, is a country with diverse sects and ethnicities. Its population consists of Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Alawites and Sunnis. Under the authoritarian regime of Assad and his father, the unity of the country was preserved.”

Munir added: “Today, however, Syria is being divided, which poses an extreme threat to Turkey. Assad has begun to use the PKK against Turkey. He has handed the north of the country to the Kurds, and furnished them with heavy weaponry. Fighters have come from the Qandil Mountains [in Iraq] to Syria. Assad has transformed the area that extends from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean Sea into a battlefield against Turkey.”

Munir continues, saying: “Turkey must provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, but it should maintain neutrality regarding the Syrian conflict. Although this would be in the interests of Turkey, it has not happened. We have earned the enmity of Assad for no specific reason. He is now hitting us in a painful spot, that is, the Kurdish question. Why should we help Assad’s enemies inflict harm upon us? Do not cry out against the bloodshed of the Syrian people, as we should first work to prevent the bloodshed of our own. As the English proverb goes, charity begins at home.”

For the first time, the Turkish Ministry of the Interior issued a statement on the clashes that have been taking place in the Semdinli and Hakkari regions since July 23. The statement included expressions such as “intensify military readiness,” “ensure full sovereignty” and “continue the fight until the area is cleansed of ​​terrorists."

According to Turkish newspaper Radikal, “these are indications that the PKK seeks to establish an [independent] zone and will not leave it, and that the violent clashes there will escalate in the coming days.”

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