Is the violence in Syria finally ending?

Is the violence in Syria finally ending?

August 18, 2011 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

According to a breaking news report by Reuters, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has informed the UN Secretary-General that police and military operations have stopped in Syria, implying that the violence that has been rocking the country may be over.

In a phone call with Assad on Wednesday, Ban “expressed alarm at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and excessive use of force by Syrian security forces against civilians across Syria, including in the Al Ramel district of Lattakia, home to several thousands of Palestinian refugees,” the United Nations said in a statement…

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Palestinian refugees chased out of homes by shelling

Palestinian refugees chased out of homes by shelling

August 17, 2011 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

Israel has been accused of many deeds over the years. Removed from their context, the below paragraphs from a report in The Guardian could almost sound like an exaggerated report on an Israeli military operation in the 2008/09 Gaza conflict – the kind that would be released by Palestinian state-controlled media outlets.

UNRWA, the UN agency that aids Palestinian refugees, said the camp’s residents fled after [the city] came under fire from gunboats and ground troops over the weekend. It was not immediately clear where the refugees were seeking shelter.

… The Local Coordination Committees, an activist group that helps organize protests… also confirmed troops fired at fleeing families. It said random gunfire erupted Monday in addition to a campaign of raids and house-to-house arrests…

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Egypt restoring order to Sinai

Egypt restoring order to Sinai

August 17, 2011 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

Following on from this post concerning the growing lawlessness in the Sinai, Haaretz has reported today that Egypian authorities have now taken action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Egyptian security forces, pushing ahead with a crackdown on armed groups in lawless northern Sinai, on Tuesday seized four armed militants as they prepared to blow up a gas pipeline in the city of el-Arish, security sources said…

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Puppetry of the Predictable

Puppetry of the Predictable

August 17, 2011 | Allon Lee

An Egyptian religious TV channel has broadcast a mock trial of former leader Hosni Mubarak, who appears as a puppet, and is accused by child prosecutors, of being, essentially, a puppet of Israel.

The clip on al Hekma TV, includes a number of anti-Israel slurs that feed into the recurring motif of Israel and Jews as spoilers and poisoners of Egyptian society.

 

Egypt - Opponents of Islamism Uniting?

Egypt – Opponents of Islamism Uniting?

August 17, 2011 | Tzvi Fleischer

In Egypt, it is being reported that 14 political groups opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties there have united to form a new bloc – called the “The Egyptian Bloc” – to compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections…

This seems to be good news – a sign that the liberal forces which sparked the Egyptian revolution, and have not only looked unprepared for the elections, but been largely driven from the streets in recent weeks, are perhaps starting to get their act together.

However, academic Barry Rubin warns that there are reasons not to get too excited about this news…

 

Syrian Dictator clutching at straws?

Syrian Dictator clutching at straws?

August 16, 2011 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

As a post on the blog Harry’s Place notes, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad running out of things to blame his current predicament on, he appears to be ramping-up violence to compensate. This is characterised by yet another watershed moment in the ongoing turmoil – Assad shelled the city of Latakia from the sea over the weekend, reportedly killing 21 people..

This week has been marked by a turning point in the Syrian uprising.

After playing the terror card, the Palestine card, the resistance card and the sectarian card, and with no sign of the Syrian uprising slowing down, this week the Assad regime has gone for broke by using gun boats to shell the city of Latakia… What do you do after gunboats? Aerial bombing campaigns?

To illustrate the extent to which the Syrian authorities are clutching at straws…

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Max Brenner protesters' peaceful claims are confected nonsense

Max Brenner protesters’ peaceful claims are confected nonsense

August 16, 2011 | Allon Lee

Contradicting local boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) supporters who claimed their actions in preventing customers entering a Max Brenner chocolate store in Melbourne last month were peaceful, a prominent supporter of the campaign has condemned their behaviour as “indefensible” and “pretty stupid”.

In an interview with the Australian, the president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Reverend Jim Barr, warned that heavy-handed tactics which resulted in 19 activists being arrested had backfired.

 

The PA should listen to the silence

The PA should listen to the silence

August 16, 2011 | Allon Lee

If called upon to march on Israel’s borders from the West Bank in the event a Palestinian state is unilaterally established on the 1967 borders come September; are Palestinians going to spoil their leaders’ party by not providing the numbers?

But what do you do if you hold a rally and the main beneficiaries of the event won’t show?

Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is worried because his own people are currently disinterested in attending anti-settlement protests.

Assad’s survival plan explained

August 16, 2011 | Tzvi Fleischer

Over the weekend in Syria, the regime was reportedly shooting people as they exited mosques after prayers near Damascus, and even used the navy to shell the port of Latakia, killing 21 people …
Explaining why Assad is continuing to escalate the violence against his own people, noted American foreign policy pundit Walter Russell Mead has an excellent post describing Assad’s strategy for survival. He says it relies on systematically attacking the centres of protest one by one with overwhelming force while assuming what the rest of the world does, or thinks, doesn’t matter…

September mourn or dawn?

September mourn or dawn?

August 16, 2011 | Allon Lee

Is it too much of a stretch to wonder if the Palestinian campaign to have the UN declare its support for a state on the 1967 borders on September 20 will spill over into the “Third Durban Conference” which starts two days later?

In other words, will Durban III, being held to mark the 10th anniversary of the first, descend into the abject anti-Israel and antisemitic hate fest that marred the original and overshadowed the second?

And will the debate about UN recognition of Palestinian statehood be used to stoke the fires?

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