Archive for February, 2012


John Ridley
The Electronic Intifada
30 August 2011

The market is busy, shop and stall owners are shouting to advertise their wares to the crowds on the street; food and essential goods only. Behind the main street more traders sell secondhand goods, mostly clothes and shoes, piled on rickety tables or heaped onto tarpaulins lying on the ground. Shoppers rummage through the piles in the hope of finding clothing at an affordable price.

The sense of community is apparent, everyone has a purpose, many stop to welcome me, or just shake hands and say “hello.”

But just beyond the bustling market lays the reality of Baqaa. Mahmood, my guide, explains — “Four generations of refugees have grown up with little hope of escaping poverty, let alone reaching their true potential; despite their hardships the community remains strong.”

The UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), runs services in Baqaa camp, although UNRWA does not itself run the refugee camps. It works alongside all the charities in the camp. The UN, being politically-funded, is restricted to running the school, health center, some food distribution and other projects.

Unlike the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), who are responsible for all non Palestinian refugees world-wide, UNWRA was established with no mandate to assist Palestinians in resettlement, either in Palestine or another country.

Apart from the run-down appearance, the school looks like any other “city center” school. Children play happily on the tarmac surface during their short breaks between lessons. At the entrance fly the flags of Jordan, Palestine and the United Nations.

The school has sixty students in each class and runs four shifts per day; not surprisingly half of the children do not finish basic education. Yet, some do succeed at school — last year the top ten Jordanian graduates came from the camps; there is an escape through education — if you are exceptional and have financial support.

A life in the space of one bed

Today the camp, just 1.5 square kilometers in size, houses 250,000 residents; each family, usually eight to ten persons spanning three generations, is allocated just 96 square meters.

Putting this into perspective, each person is allocated a space slightly larger than a double bed, their space to live in — sleep, keep belongings, wash, cook, perform personal hygiene, study, play — their whole live in the space taken by one bed.

The homes are rudimentary concrete structures with corrugated panels or plastic sheets for roofs, more substantial roofing is not allowed; this would imply the home was a permanent building.

The unemployment, overcrowding, lack of proper ventilation, inadequate garbage collection, poor water and sewage systems make the camp a breeding ground for disease. Mahmood struggles to express his emotion, “Every family faces devastation, then hope, followed by devastation — eventually everyone becomes anaesthetized to hope. The mortality statistics, whether through illness or suicide, are just numbers, they lose all meaning.”

Mahmood takes me to a narrow gateway, the entrance to a small patch of ground between two houses. “Behind every door you find tragic circumstances, orphans, mental and physical illness, widows, birth defects, nothing prepares you,” he says.

In 1948, Fatima was a young girl in her late teens living in al-Dawayima, a small Palestinian village near Hebron. “We were farmers and had land, we grew figs, olives and wheat,” she says. As a reminder of those better days she keeps one solitary olive tree growing in the small yard of her home.

She and Abdul Rahman, her brother, had expected peace and comfort in the years ahead but in the space of just a few hours their lives and the lives of everyone they knew changed forever. She remembers every detail of 29 October 1948.

Al-Dawayima was the site of one of the larger, little-known massacres of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s establishment. “Our parents among the dead, we fled for our lives, leaving our home with nothing more than the clothes on our back.” Sixty-three years on, Fatima still has nothing.

Along with many survivors, they walked to the Hebron Hills where they hid, before walking onto a makeshift camp in Jericho. There would be no peace for Fatima or her brother; during the war of June 1967, along with 300,000 Palestinians, they fled Jericho and the West Bank for exile in Jordan.

Since 1968 she has lived in Baqaa with her brother Abdul Rahman and his disabled son; both disabled by arthritis, neither can walk more than a few tens of yards.

“We walked day and night until reaching Baqaa; this was to be our new home,” she says. Under canvas, many died in the harsh Jordanian winters; steel prefabricated huts eventually replaced the tents. “The huts were dry, an improvement on the canvas tents, but as protection against the cold we dug underground shelters.”

Living underground for twenty years

In September 1972, Israel began aerial bombing of Baqaa in response to Palestinian attempts to recapture their homeland. The underground shelters became protection from the bombing raids; the whole camp was destroyed.

Unable to afford to replace their hut, they lived below their nine-meter by nine-meter plot of ground for twenty years. “Finally, with the help of charity we managed to build a small concrete shelter.” The elderly brother, sister and disabled son now live in this one room, with rags on the floor to sleep on. They can afford no mattresses or furniture.

“We keep hens in the yard, feeding them stale bread; eggs are our main diet. Two to three times a week, more fortunate Baqaa residents provide us with a meal. Many hundreds of people in the camp live in the same poverty as us.”

Despite the hardship, Fatima is a joy and inspiration. She is now in her mid-seventies, but as I left her home, smiling, she told me that when she returns to Palestine she will be ready to get married.

With every family we meet, the stories keep coming. The narrow alleyways between the houses are cold, dark and damp, very little sunlight reaches the streets or into the homes. Toilets, bathrooms and excess rain water empty into the same sewage pipes, too small to meet demand in heavy rain, raw sewage overflows into the roads. No matter how hard the residents try, keeping their homes and the camp clean and healthy is almost impossible.

The houses are in dreadful condition inside and out, the personal stories even worse: illness, death, finance, or other tragedies.

“We’ve kept our keys”

In 1948, Abdullah’s grandparents, married just five years, were raising their young family in the coastal city of Jaffa. “My grandfather came from a trading family, buying and selling citrus fruit from the orchards for export,” Abdullah says. “We were not rich, but we wanted for nothing. As the escalating violence reached Jaffa, my grandparents decided the family should leave the city.”

The family packed for a short trip, they would return home in a week or two when things settled down. They covered their furniture, locked the door and left, heading for Ramallah on foot, carrying just the provisions they could manage — and the key to the door of the house.

Every family I visited showed me their house keys. The key has come to symbolize the right of return for Palestinian refugees worldwide.

“Countless people walked together towards an unknown destination, we walked until dusk, resting in orchards overnight. My mother was six months old and very ill, doctors had said that she would not survive.” The family was in great difficulty, carrying four young children and provisions. “On the first night, my grandparents begged the owner of an orchard to care for their dying child until she passed away.” Another refugee intervened, leaving his few possessions, he carried her for two days until they reached the safety of Ramallah.

Finally, the refugees arrived at the emergency shelters, home from 1948 until 1967. “My grandmother, with help from the Quakers, supported the family by selling crochet and knitting to people in Ramallah.” In 1967 the Israelis again declared war on the Palestinians, forcing a second wave of expulsions. “Again we were refugees, left with nothing.”

Exhausted, after days of walking, they arrived in Baqaa on the Jordanian East Bank; home was to be a canvas tent, allocated to the family by the United Nations.

“By 1972, most tents had been replaced by steel shelters, but we were not left in peace to rebuild our lives, Israelis continued fighting Palestinians. In September of that year Israel again attacked us, this time dropping bombs from aircraft onto Baqaa, killing thousands and destroying the camp.”

Heart-breaking tragedy

Abdullah’s mother survived; she is now 63 and lives with him, his wife, their four daughters and three sons.

Just two weeks before I met Abdullah and his mother Ayishah, Abdullah’s five-year-old daughter had died of cholera. Fighting tears, Abdullah told me, “Cholera is very common in all the refugee camps, caused by sewage in the streets when we have heavy rain.”

As a Palestinian refugee arriving in Jordan after 1967, Abdullah has no nationality and can only find simple work outside the camp, for which police approval is needed. “Palestinians, even those with Jordanian nationality, have differently-colored identity cards; we face discrimination everywhere in our lives. Once a refugee, always a refugee.”

Abdullah now works for an imam in a mosque. “I earn very little money, but it is better than nothing and reduces my dependence upon charity.”

The edge of Baqaa to the roundabout of the main Damascus-Amman highway is fewer than 20 meters. Few people know what lies behind the tatty shops, workshops and second hand tire stands fronting the road. Not many from Amman turn into the camp, unless they want to buy vegetables from the market stalls at a fraction of the price they would pay in supermarkets.

Our car turns onto the highway, in less than five minutes we are in Amman, driving past the highly respected Queen Rania Hospital for Children and the upmarket City Mall. Baqaa is just far enough outside Amman to be forgotten. The world may look away but the forgotten people of Palestine will still be there.

Note: This article was amended to correct language which suggested UNRWA runs Baqaa refugee camp. UNRWA does not run refugee camps, but provides services to refugees living in the camps.

Source: Electronic Intifada.
Link: http://electronicintifada.net/content/palestinians-jordan-refugee-camp-long-return/10330.

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By Joshua Philipp
August 29, 2011

Cell Block 3 was in flames as prison riots continued in the next block over. The Taliban had grown too powerful, and the confinements of Afghanistan’s Pol-e-charki prison became little more than protective walls rendering them untouchable from the war raging outside.

The December 2008 riots at Pol-e-charki prison on the outskirts of Kabul served as a wake-up call to the severity of the corruption that had crept in through padded pockets and turning blind eyes. Captured Taliban commanders and radicalized prisoners had formed an operating center within Cell Block 3—armed with weapons, and with their own Shura Council to hold trials, vote, and eliminate those who refused to cooperate.

“The guards were not even allowed to go down into the cell block because they would be killed or kidnapped—I mean, its the Wild West out there,” said Drew Berquist, a former U.S. intelligence agent and author of “The Maverick Experiment,” in a phone interview.

Attention fell on the prison after the riots, and rebuilding efforts became focused on increasing security. This included eliminating cells for large groups, and replacing them with cells for smaller groups of between two and eight.

“You had a prison that was run by the Afghan government, but really, entire facilities within that prison were being used as training and education grounds for insurgent elements,” said Drew Quinn, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs director at the U.S. Embassy Kabul, on the NATO Channel in Nov. 2009.

Resolving such issues is no simple matter, and the battle behind prison walls continues to this day.

A rare news conference in Kabul, held by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security intelligence service in February, highlighted the breadth of the problem—noting that despite efforts to root out operations at Pul-e-Charkhi, it is still going strong.

Taliban commander Talib Jan, a prisoner at Pul-e-Charkhi, is one of the more extreme cases. He organizes suicide bombings across Kabul from within his cell—including the Jan. 28 suicide bombing of a supermarket that killed 14 people.

“Most of the terrorist and suicide attacks in Kabul were planned from inside this prison by this man,” said National Directorate of Security spokesman, Lutfullah Mashal, at the conference, New York Times reported.

The problem, according to Berquist, runs deep.

“The prison systems are corrupt,” Berquist said. “The safest place for the Taliban is the prisons because they can’t get caught again.”

Prisoners often use cell phones to communicate with, and give commands to, insurgents operating outside. Meanwhile, since captured Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders from across the country are at times detained together, the prisons give them an otherwise nonexistent opportunity to network and coordinate—since they are wary of gathering too many leaders in one place outside the prisons for fear of attack by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or special operations raids.

“The culture becomes so tough to break because these guys become so powerful within the prison,” Berquist said, adding that when they try to dismantle networks by moving prisoners to different cells, “they meet additional people and all it does is end up expanding things.”

A Corrupt System

Pol-e-charki is haunted by significant infamy, even for Afghanistan—its Soviet past of violence, terror, and political turmoil has been reanimated to face a new war. Impassible roads through communities supportive of the insurgents lead to its gates, while the now empty mass graves of political prisoners nearby stand as painful reminders of the prison’s Soviet founders in the late 1970s.

The problem is not limited to Pol-e-charki, however, as other Afghan prisons have met with similar problems.

The April 25 Taliban “Great Escape” at Saraposa prison in Kandahar dealt a blow to the image of Afghan prison security, when 500 inmates escaped through a 1,000-foot-long tunnel, and with the help of corrupt guards.

The incident happened after Saraposa was revamped, similar to Pol-e-charki, after a 2008 attack on the prison that freed 900 inmates in broad daylight. The whole area was known for corruption, with “assassinations of investigators, bribery of prosecutors, intimidation of justices, and attacks upon witnesses” that “obscured both evidence and law,” stated Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins in a Feb. 10 Department of Defense video conference, according to the Pentagon transcript.

Illegal use of cell phones by prisoners is one of the key problems, since they act as enablers for commanding troops outside, and efforts to take their phones have met with little success. “Most of them operate either with their own phones smuggled in, or they pay corrupt guards to use their phones to call not just people inside the prison, but also to other people in Afghanistan, and across the border into Pakistan,” Berquist said.

Meanwhile, non-insurgents going into the prisons can be thrown into a cycle of radicalization through Taliban and al-Qaeda members inside. Prisoners arrested for more extreme crimes also rarely serve their full sentences, which becomes a problem since “they start to get street cred having been in prison, when they get out,” Berquist said, “You get guys who become more extreme in prison then come out as a much bigger problem than when they went in.”

He added that, “because of how corrupt the system is, people frequently do get out because there are a lot of dirty parliamentarians and other government officials who take bribes.”

The flow of corruption into Afghan prisons is difficult to put a cap on.

“If you didn’t go in dirty there’s a reasonable chance you’re going to turn dirty because you’re going to get frustrated by how monotonous and how difficult it is to be in those positions, and just how tough life is there,” Berquist said. “Eventually that money starts to sound good, and it’s a slippery slope once you do that.”

Source: The Epoch Times.
Link: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/world/corruption-turning-afghan-prisons-into-taliban-bases-60910-all.html.

Tue Aug 30, 2011

Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) has demanded the extradition of fugitive Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s wife and three of his sons from Algeria, where they earlier fled to.

Mahmoud Shammam, the TNC’s Information Minister, said on Tuesday that Algeria’s decision to accept members of the Gaddafi family was an “aggressive act against the Libyan people’s wish,” Reuters reported.

“We are warning anybody not to shelter Gaddafi and his sons. We are going after them … to find them and arrest them,” Shammam added.

He noted that TNC would formally demand their extradition and make arrangements to ensure their fair trial in Libya.

“We have promised to provide a just trial to all those criminals,” the official noted, adding that the Libyan council considers Algeria’s move to give refuge to the Gaddafi family members “an act of aggression.”

The developments come after Algerian foreign ministry confirmed the fleeing family arrived in Algeria on Monday.

“Muammar Gaddafi’s wife Safia, his daughter Aisha, his sons Hannibal and Muhammed, accompanied by their children, entered Algeria at 8:45 am (0745 GMT) through the Algerian-Libyan border,” the Algerian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Libyan opposition officials announced on Monday that Gaddafi’s son Khamis was killed in a battle near Libya’s capital Tripoli and buried in the western city of Ziltan.

Opposition fighters want to capture the country’s fugitive dictator and his associates so they can proclaim final victory in the six-month-old uprising.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/196521.html.

Tue Aug 30, 2011

Algeria’s UN envoy Mourad Benmehidi has defended his country’s decision to give refuge to family members of Libya’s fugitive ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

In an interview with the state-run BBC on Tuesday, Benmehidi described the move as “the holy rule of hospitality.”

He made the remarks after opposition forces demanded Algeria to return Gaddafi’s wife and daughter, along with two of his sons Muhammed and Hanibal.

The opposition called the move an “act of aggression against the Libyan people.”

On Monday, Algeria announced that several members of Gaddafi’s family had crossed into its territory at 08:45 local time (0745 GMT).

Meanwhile, clashes between opposition forces and troops loyal to Gaddafi are underway near the fugitive ruler’s hometown of Sirte, which is one of the last areas still under control of loyalists.

Chairman of the Transitional National Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Tuesday gave an ultimatum to pro-Gaddafi troops to surrender until Saturday.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/196522.html

Mon Aug 29, 2011

Interview with Sheikh Walid El Saadi, leader of the Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy, from Gaza.

The Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy has bypassed the Israeli blockade and reached the Gaza Strip where they are giving aid and supplies to the oppressed Palestinians.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Sheikh Walid El Saadi, leader of the Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy, tells us about his 60-day journey across rough African terrain to reach the impoverished Palestinians in Gaza.

Press TV: You arrived in yet another difficult time for Gaza, but can you tell me the feeling for your African convoy about being there now?

El Saadi: Indeed. Successfully yesterday, thanks God, we arrived in Gaza last night after a long journey. Sixty days driving from the city of Durban in South Africa right through Africa to Al Arish, to Egypt where we had a little bit of difficulty to cross last night because it was late and Gaza wasn’t safe – they said it was being bombed. But we insisted that we will come inside Gaza, yesterday, even if the Israelis are bombing.

It was ten o’clock in the evening that we were in Gaza, thanks God, and the Gaza people received us in such a way that you cannot believe it. Our hearts were crying. Happiness by entering Gaza, successfully, completing our mission which started on June 26 and ended on August 26, today. Sixty days on the road.

It’s a good feeling for my team, the 20 of us, and the team who joined us from Sudan, also, the 16 of them. So, we were 36 members in the convoy, all of us shouting “God is Great”, “Praise to God”, “Glorious is God,” honor us to enter Gaza after 60 days of driving through Africa, the most challenging roads, and to deliver the aid which we were carrying.

But the most important part of our trip was to conscientize Africa about what’s happening in Gaza, what’s happening in Palestine, the Holy Land.

Press TV: What is your aim now that you’re there for the 36 of you? Are you staying with families there? Do you have some specific activities you hope to do in Gaza?

El Saadi: Sure. Today, because it’s a Friday, we have met most of the organization leaders and we have Friday Jummah Salat [prayers]. And this evening is a big night, as you know, which is the 27th day of Ramadan.

From today until the last day of Ramadan, everyday in Ramadan, we’ll have three tables of Iftar, each table with 300 people. We’re going to split up, the 36 of us, to three groups with every group in a different table of Iftar.

Then we will have aid baskets distributed, about 2,500 of them. Then we will distribute the aid which we’ve been carrying with us which is medicine, wheelchairs, medical mattresses, milk powder for children, sweets for children, stationary, seven of our ambulances, and three trucks to give to the municipality of Gaza, God willing.

We hope to have the Eid celebration with the people of Gaza, it would be a pleasure to have it, God willing, but it depends on how the program will go.

Press TV: We wish you safety and congratulate you on a successful mission. I know that you’ll be looked after well by the people of Gaza. Thank you very much.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/196296.html.

By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI – Associated Press
Tue, Aug 30, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Since the rebel takeover of Tripoli, evidence has been mounting that Moammar Gadhafi may have lied about the death of his adopted baby daughter Hana in a 1986 U.S. airstrike.

The strike hit Gadhafi’s home in his Tripoli compound, Bab al-Aziziya, in retaliation for the Libyan-sponsored bombing of a Berlin nightclub earlier that year that killed two U.S. servicemen. At the time, Gadhafi showed American journalists a picture of a dead baby and said it was his adopted daughter Hana — the first public mention that she even existed.

Diplomats almost immediately questioned the claim. But Gadhafi kept the story alive through the years.

Then, when investigations into the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, pointed to a Libyan hand in the attack, some theorized that Gadhafi had ordered it to avenge Hana’s death in the U.S. airstrike.

But when Libyan rebels took over Tripoli and Bab al-Aziziya last week, they found a room in Gadhafi’s home with Hana’s birth certificate and pictures of a young woman with the name “Hana” written on the back, possible indications that she lived well beyond infancy. A Tripoli hospital official surfaced, saying Hana worked for him as a surgeon up until the rebels came to town.

And on Tuesday, Swiss officials confirmed that Hana’s name had briefly appeared earlier this year on a Swiss government document listing the names of senior Libyan figures targeted for sanctions.

Many Libyans believe Hana was never killed and talked about her existence openly.

Adel Shaltut, a Libyan diplomat at the U.N. in Geneva, said it was common knowledge that Hana Gadhafi wasn’t killed in the airstrike.

“All Libyans knew from the very beginning that it’s a lie,” he told The Associated Press, saying that Hana was married and had children.

However, some in Libya believed that after Hana’s death, Gadhafi adopted another daughter and gave her the same name in a memorial tribute.

Adding to the mystery, two AP photographs from the 1990s show an adolescent girl identified in captions as Gadhafi’s daughter Hana. In one of them from 1999, she is standing next to South African President Nelson Mandela, with his arm around her, during a family visit to Cape Town. Gadhafi’s only biological daughter, Aisha, stands on Mandela’s other side and Gadhafi’s wife Safiya is next to the girl identified as Hana.

In another AP photo from 1996, Gadhafi is seen wiping the face of a girl identified in the caption as his daughter Hana Gadhafi.

Despite these sightings of Hana, in 2006 Gadhafi organized an event called the “Hana Festival for Freedom and Peace” to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death. Performers reportedly included Lionel Richie and Spanish tenor Jose Carreras.

Last week, after rebels stormed the Bab al-Aziziya compound where Gadhafi and family members lived, journalists saw a room in his home filled with stuffed animals, photos of a young woman with the name “Hana” written on the back in Arabic and a birth certificate of “Hana Gadhafi.”

Rebels touring the room told reporters that everyone in Libya knew that the daughter who the world thought was dead was, in fact, alive.

Hana’s current whereabouts are unknown. Her mother, sister Aisha and two brothers fled to Algeria on Monday, with their spouses and children. She was not identified among those who had left the country. Her father and brother Seif al-Islam, once the heir apparent to rule Libya, are believed to still be in Libya.

Gassem Baruni, head of the Tripoli Medical Center, said Hana worked for him as a surgeon before she disappeared Friday.

“She was very tense and nervous as soon as the revolution started,” Baruni told the AP. “She told me not to treat the rebels, but I told her: ‘If we don’t treat everyone, it would be a crime.'”

The doctor said he used her influence to stock up the hospital with supplies and medicine, keeping the fact he was coordinating with rebels secret from her.

“I pretended that we needed the stuff to treat the Gadhafi troops,” Baruni said.

The British Council confirmed that someone named Hana Gadhafi studied English at the British Council in Tripoli in 2007, and again in 2009.

“We can confirm that a student by the name of Hana Gadhafi did study English with us in Libya. However, we don’t have access to any documents as we don’t have access to our Tripoli office, which we had to leave earlier this year,” a spokesman told the AP. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with council policy.

“Our country director in Libya did query this, given reports of Hana Gadhafi’s death,” he said.

“The widely held belief in Libya at the time was that this was a different daughter, adopted by Col. Gadhafi after Hana’s death, and given the same name as a tribute. This is, in fact, a common practice in Libya as a memorial to a dead child.”

A Swiss government document earlier this year listed the names of senior Libyan figures who were to be targeted for sanctions briefly included Hana Gadhafi’s name, but it was quickly removed, Swiss officials said Tuesday. They were responding to questions by the AP.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Adrian Sollberger, said the list was revised to conform with sanctions imposed by the United Nations. He declined to say why someone with the name Hana Gadhafi had featured on the original sanctions list, and whether Switzerland had evidence the Libyan leader’s daughter was alive.

Libyans said Gadhafi wanted to drum up sympathy for himself and hatred toward the west by claiming Hana was killed in 1986 and Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Arab was killed in May during a NATO airstrike.

Mohammed Ammar, a Tripoli resident who said his cousin graduated with Hana from medical school last year, was among those who believe the death of Hana was a myth.

“It is not surprising he would lie about his own child’s death,” he said. “He is capable of killing a whole population, why not his own child?”

____

Associated Press reporters Jill Lawless in London and Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Aug. 29 (UPI) — A rebel leader was sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for his role in fighting against Sudanese forces in South Kordofan, a judge said.

A judge in Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan state, sentenced Al-Tom Hamed after Hamed was convicted on charges of undermining the constitution and “stirring up war,” the state-run Sudan News Agency reports.

The rebel leader was captured by Sudanese forces following a raid by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement against military forces in South Kordofan.

The state news agency identified Hamed as JEM’s political representative in the Nuba Mountains. He denied playing a role in attacks in the southern state.

Conflict erupted in June following attempts to disarm ethnic Nuban fighters along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Khartoum denies allegations that it was involved in an ethnic cleansing campaign in the region.

A report from the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights documents serious rights violations near the Nuba Mountains in the region. The report accuses the north’s armed forces and the south’s army of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other atrocities.

The Sudanese ambassador said the United Nations should wait to discuss the matter until Khartoum conducts its own investigation into the claims.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/08/29/Rebel-leader-sentenced-to-hang-in-Sudan/UPI-58101314630950/.

August 29, 2011 — BEIRUT (AP) — Syrians should not take up arms in their uprising against President Bashar Assad or invite foreign military action like the intervention that helped topple the government of Libya, a prominent activist group warned Monday.

There have been scattered reports of some Syrians using automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised weapons to repel government troops, but there appears to have been no organized armed resistance to Assad during the five-month uprising.

Calls to launch such a resistance have been rare, but they were more widely reported than usual by witnesses at protests in Syria on Friday, at the end of a week that saw Tripoli fall to rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi with the help of NATO.

“While we understand the motivation to take up arms or call for military intervention, we specifically reject this position,” said a statement emailed by the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group with a wide network of sources on the ground across Syria. “Militarization would … erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning.”

The prime minister of Turkey, a former close ally, warned Assad that his regime could face a demise like those in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya if the violent suppression of protests does not stop. The comments were some of the bluntest warnings yet and were particularly biting because they came from a leader whose government had extensive diplomatic ties with Syria.

“The only way out is to immediately silence arms and to listen to the people’s demands,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in his monthly address aired on Turkish TV late Sunday. “We have been watching the fate of those who did not chose this path in the past few months in Tunisia, in Egypt — and now in Libya — as a warning and with sadness.”

Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprising in March. Witnesses and activists said the crackdown continued Monday as Syrian security forces pursuing anti-government protesters stormed several towns and villages, killing at least six people — including a child — and wounding many others during raids and house-to-house searches.

The largest operation appeared to be in Sarameen in the northern Idlib province, where the London-based Observatory for Human Rights said five people were killed and more than 60 wounded. One person also died during raids in Qara, a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

Similar raids were reported in the village of Heet near the border with Lebanon, along with a military buildup just outside the central town of Rastan, which has become a hotbed of dissent against Assad.

The Syrian government has placed severe restrictions on the media and expelled foreign reporters, making it nearly impossible to independently verify witness accounts. Syria’s opposition has no clear leadership or platform beyond the demands for more freedom and for Assad to step down, and several attempts to form a national council have failed because of disagreements between opposition figures, and in particular, divisions between the opposition inside and outside Syria.

In a sign of just how fragmented the opposition is, a relatively unknown dissident Monday announced the formation of a 94-member national council. The announcement, made in Ankara, Turkey, was greeted with excitement on social networking sites — but the celebrations were premature. Several opposition figures whose names appeared on the list told The Associated Press they had not been consulted.

Meanwhile, in New York, Security Council ambassadors met behind closed doors Monday to discuss rival U.N. resolutions on Syria. Russia introduced a resolution Friday that called for Assad’s government to halt its violence against protesters and expedite reforms, but it made no mention of the sanctions sought by the U.S. and European nations in draft resolution circulated earlier this month.

Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private, said afterwards that it was a useful and constructive session and all 15 council members agreed on the necessity of adopting a resolution. Council members will continue discussing what should be included in the resolution, the diplomats said.

After months of deadlock, the Security Council finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria on Aug. 3, condemning Assad’s forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations in a weaker presidential statement. It called on Syrian authorities to immediately end all violence and launch an inclusive political process.

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

by Ammaar ibn Walid
The Star Trail Lines Writer

The 18th of May 2011, Wednesday
The 18th of Jumada al-Akhira 1432

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful…

The year of 2011 has so far witnessed historic events, mainly the Arab Spring, or what I like to term the Breeze Uprisings. I termed the year 2011 as “The Year of Breeze”, hence the title of the post. I want to solely focus on the protests that have happened in Jordan in this post. Jordan is led by the arrogant Royal Hashemite Family. It was formed out of the Great Arab Disgrace and survived it. There are numerous tribes in Jordan. Such tribes are Native Jordanians. People might ask and wonder about the Arab Spring not affecting Jordan.

Living in Jordan and following events happening in it, I would like to say that the Arab Spring is obviously affecting Jordan.

FOREIGN AGENDA AGAINST JORDAN:

The protests in Jordan started late and quietly. Unlike other uprisings in the Middle East, the people of Jordan do NOT want or even try to overthrow the Royal Hashemite Family. Doing such a thing would lead to a power struggle in Jordan. Doing such a thing would most likely put Jordan into a second bloodier civil war. Not only would trying to overthrow the Hashemite Royal Family lead to a second bloodier civil war, but that would make Jordan weak enough for enemies to exploit it.

In this case namely the Zionists of Occupied Palestine. No matter how quiet the Zionists are about it, or apologize about it, it is obvious that the Zionists of Occupied Palestine still have their eyes on Jordan for their Greater Israel. The first thing is falsely claiming that Jordan is “Palestine”. This is nonsense from the Zionists. It was the colonialists who achieved victory in World War 1 who formed Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria out of the Levant.

If I would blame anyone I would blame the Global Oligarchy for their plans at that time to divide Islamic Land after the Arabs from Hijaz took the Levant from the Ottoman Khilafa. It is true and an actual fact that the majority of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, but that doesn’t mean for Jordan to become “Palestine”. The Palestinian Jordanians and Palestinians throughout the world would object to such a thing, and not only Native Jordanians.

The manipulation King Abdullah II gets (like his visit with Obama in the U.S., where Obama pledged “money and wheat” to Jordan) shows how much King Abdullah could be manipulated, in a cunning way. The money is probably to buy people in order for them not to protest in the future. Now those who accept such offers and those who reject would show who are strong in their faith in Islam.

KING WITH UNLIMITED POWERS:

It needs to be mentioned that the Prime Minister and Senate Members of the Parliament are appointed by the King of Jordan, namely King Abdullah II. It also needs to be mentioned that King Abdullah II is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Jordan.

PRIME MINISTER FOR “SECURITY” PERIOD:

The situation in Jordan, with unemployment and high prices, along with corruption in the Jordanian Government, is something no one would envy. Jordanians started protesting about such things, calling for Samir Rifai, the Prime Minister of that time, to resign. Samir Rifai is a Jordanian who was an ex-Economic Adviser for King Abdullah II. King Abdullah II made him prime minister so that the economic situation of Jordan could be improved. However with protests against Samir Rifai, it was obvious that the economic situation hasn’t improved under his leadership.

With King Abdullah II pressured from the protests, he sacked Samir Rifai and hired a worse Jordanian for Prime Minister. Marouf al-Bakhit enters the picture at that point, and he has remained prime minister since. He is a Native Jordanian from one of the Jordanian tribes, which most likely helped cool the nerves of some Jordanian Tribes. It was a wise decision for King Abdullah II to sack Samir Rifai, but unwise to appoint Marouf al-Bakhit as Rifai’s replacement.

With a career as the Jordanian Ambassador for the Zionists of Occupied Palestine and a career in the Jordanian Armed Forces, it was apparent that his appointment would do no good for Jordan. al-Bakhit’s career showed when protests continued on, even after he was appointed. He led siege to Amman with the Armed Forces of Jordan at first temporarily, trying to not allow the protests to spread to other cities in Jordan. Regardless of that fruitless oppressive effort, protests did spread to other cities in Jordan. Not being successful, the siege didn’t last long.

RACISM OF NATIVE JORDANIANS:

At first the Jordanian Tribes were quiet about the protests, but at one point the leaders of numerous major tribes showed their dislike toward how King Abdullah II was acting. Due to that King Abdullah II somewhat responded more, with him remaining in Jordan for a longer period of time, and not always traveling out of Jordan. The Islamic Action Front was the first to call for a National Salvation Government for Jordan. When the Jordanian Tribes expressed their dislike toward how King Abdullah II was acting, they also called for a National Salvation Government, thus indirectly supporting the Islamic Action Front’s call for it.

The Jordanian Tribes also expressed their dislike toward the wife of King Abdullah II, Queen Rania. However true the reason for their dislike toward Queen Rania, it showed racism in an indirect way that the Native Jordanians had for the Palestinian Jordanians. It might not be apparent to foreigners or to tourists, but from time to time there are clashes between Native Jordanian Youth and Palestinian Jordanian Youth, however uncommon and rare that might be. I’ve witnessed it on several occasions myself.

THE YOUTH OF MARCH 24:

The demands of the Jordanians were simple at first, similar to the ones across the region, however those demands increased. Eventually the protests were calling for a Constitutional Monarchy. This means for the people to elect the Prime Minister and the Senate Members, meaning to decrease the authority of King Abdullah II ONLY. That was how the constitution for Jordan originally was: a Constitutional Monarchy. However it was gradually altered to what it is now. For a good time in the beginning, the peaceful protests earned Jordan a good image, compared to other violent oppression of protests elsewhere in the region. That changed though.

Eventually a group calling itself “Youth of March 24” was formed in Jordan. They became known by having a sit-in at the interior circle in Amman. They requested a Constitutional Monarchy and for the Jordanian Intelligence to be dismantled. Marouf al-Bakhit showed his hand and his influence in breaking the sit-in, and perhaps most likely releasing the “official” reason of the death of the martyr. During the sit-in and before it was broken, some Jordanians that passed by from some distance threw rocks and stones at those participating in the sit-in.

Why was this? There is evidence of government (or intelligence) influence with some of the Jordanians, as some of them were told that those in the sit-in were “Palestinian”. Racism kicked in during such an event. During the protests against the government there were ignorant rallies who expressed their “loyalty” toward King Abdullah II. That shows how much they didn’t understand what was going on, and how ignorant they are. However on March 25 would live in infamy. It was when the sit-in of the group was broken up.

One of the results was a Jordanian becoming a martyr from the hands of the Jordanian Gendarme. It was part of the “security” forces of Jordan, and its purpose was to protect foreign missions, like embassies and consulates, as well as provide escort for important leading foreign governmental officials. The martyr marked the first death since the protests in Jordan started. His name is Khairi Mustafa. The Gendarme beat him to death at the circle, while the official reason for his death was something completely different.

FAVORITISM OVER TRIBES:

It was during the protests that I became more aware of stuff, like of the Royal Hashemite Family favoring some Jordanian Tribes over others. This shows with government support of development and developing areas in the north of Jordan. From that the Royal Hashemite Family favored the tribes in the north, over the tribes in the south, where it isn’t as well developed as the north. There were some incidents where government offices were attacked and burned in the south. It was no surprise. The reason why the Royal Hashemite Family favors some tribes over others in Jordan? Who does it benefit?

Certainly not the Jordanians. The Global Oligarchy, led by the U.S. and President Obama, have influence and are capable of manipulating the young western-educated King of Jordan. It is most likely that it was through their manipulation that the king favored tribes in the north over tribes of the south. That is kind of ironic though, since during the Great Arab Disgrace, the south of Jordan had some important role for the Hashemite family, yet now they’re being neglected. It is important to note that the Jordanian Tribes in the north are close to Syria, showing how the Global Oligarchy wants to keep an eye on Syria.

ENCOURAGEMENT BEFORE BREEZE UPRISINGS:

At first the protests in Jordan weren’t that well organized, but nonetheless there were still protests. Eventually it seemed that the Youth of March 24 took a leadership role, but since then the Muslim Brotherhood took over. The majority of Jordanians, whether natives or Palestinian, are Muslims. There would still be tension in Jordan, even if the protests decrease. The Parliamentary Elections late last year are a role in encouraging such protests that have happened in Jordan.

At first the Jordanians weren’t encouraged or motivated enough, but with Breeze Uprisings sweeping the Middle East, it was enough encouragement.

INCIDENTS IN JORDAN:

There were incidents, like the Jordan Intelligence closing a top Jordanian website that they didn’t like. The government at the time denied the Intelligence being involved in it, but no other department in Jordan had such cyber skill. Another incident to be noted is when the bodyguards of King Abdullah II shot at protesters in a university that King Abdullah II was visiting. Members of a tribe were protesting their living conditions and some other stuff.

PROPAGANDA COVERAGE:

It is interesting to know what and how official state media covered the protests in Jordan. Some times they had nonsense and other times they didn’t give the events or incidents they deserved. I don’t know if that was lack of knowledge or something else. It was during such protests and such times that I decided that JTV is a propaganda tool of the government mostly.

INCIDENTS NOT WELL COVERED:

Groups and organizations that were once operating underground, like Hizb ut-Tahrir, came out in the open, organized and went along with successful protests and rallies of their own. There were other types of protests besides the protests against the government, like those for prisoners in Arabia. In the end the people of Jordan do NOT want to overthrow the Royal Hashemite Family; they just want better standard living conditions for themselves and their families.

Source: The Star Trail Lines.
Link: http://startrailines.blogspot.com/2011/05/calm-breeze-protests-of-jordan.html.

by Ammaar ibn Walid
The Star Trail Lines Writer

The 6th of August 2010, Friday
The 26th of Sha’ban 1431

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful…

On the 2nd of August 2010, Monday a Grad Missile from outside of Jordan landed in Aqaba, which is the only sea port in Jordan. The result was six injuries, with one of those injured becoming a martyr. The martyr had serious injuries and so he is at peace with Allah now insha’ Allah. The Zionist police claimed that the missile was from Sinai, which is the peninsula that is part of Egypt. At first a senior Egyptian official denied it being from Sinai. The Jordanian Authorities are still investigating into the matter. In my opinion, I accuse three sides of the terrorist attack on Aqaba.

The three sides are: The Zionists of Occupied Palestine, the Egyptian Government and the U.S., whether it is government or intelligence or both. Some time after the Egyptian official denied it being from Sinai, the Egyptians changed their position and mentioned that it was from Sinai. They also falsely accused some Palestinian faction from Gaza of it. At first they denied it was from Sinai, and some time afterward they not only “confirmed” it from Sinai, but also unjustly accused a side that is innocent of it. There is obvious contradiction from the Egyptian side, and why is that?

Is there the possibility that the Egyptian Government was pressured to change their story? If so, who pressured them? In my opinion the Egyptian Government was most likely pressured to change their story. As for who pressured them, it was obviously the U.S. and the Zionists without doubt. When Egypt denied it was from Sinai at first, they also mentioned strong security presence along the border with Gaza and occupied Palestine. All of a sudden there was no mention of the strong security presence afterward, as if it has vanished into thin air. The missile attack on Aqaba was the second missile attack on it.

There were injuries from the attack on Aqaba, yet the deceiving attack on a port in occupied Palestine had no injuries. In my view, that is a little bit suspicious. The Palestinian Authority and the U.N. both condemned the attack on Aqaba, but the U.S. mentioned that it was a “regrettable act”! What kind of a response is that?! Shouldn’t it have been more liked “terrorist act”? Is that evidence of guilt? Or of U.S. involvement in the attack against one of its allies in the Middle East? The timing of such an attack should be noticed and observed as well. Just a few months before the Zionists committed an act of piracy.

It was an act of piracy in International Waters where the Zionists martyred nine Turkish activists in cold blood. It was a time when the Palestinians of Gaza had sympathy from peoples of different nations. It also put the spotlight on Gaza and the illegal blockade on it. It rightfully put the Zionists in hot water. There was no condemnation of the attack on Aqaba from the Zionists, and just a day afterward the Zionists unjustly went after some trees on Lebanese land, which sparked a skirmish between the Zionist and Lebanese armies. It was the first time the Lebanese army had a fight with the Zionists.

It is important to mention that Hizbullah stayed out of the skirmish. The Zionist Prime Minister unjustly and falsely accused the Palestinian Government of the attack on Aqaba, with the Palestinian Government being Hamas in Gaza. That is illogical. It wouldn’t be in Hamas’ interest to do such a thing. That’s one thing. Another thing is that moving missiles from Gaza into Sinai wouldn’t be an easy job. The Egyptian security forces would soon discover such weapons and confiscate them.

If the Egyptian security forces had a strong presence on the border, there wouldn’t have been any chance or possibility for any Palestinian faction to do such an act without being discovered. It is obvious that the Egyptian Government cooperated with the Zionists and the U.S. in attacking Aqaba. The Egyptian security forces let the Zionists in easily with their weapons. As such, the Egyptian Government is responsible as much as the Zionists are. Such attacks on Aqaba not only show the vulnerability of the sea port, but it also shows that the Zionists idea of a Greater Israel hasn’t vanished.

A Greater Israel that would consume Jordan. I have learned that there are some Jordanian journalists who falsely suggested a group related to al-Qaeda was behind it. There is no such evidence of that for one thing. For another thing that is illogical. The Zionists have the most interest in doing such an attack on Jordan, however covertly it might be. The Zionists have time and time again tried to provoke Jordan into a war against it. Such attacks on Jordanian territory is strong provocation.

The Zionist Prime Minister falsely accusing Hamas is like saying that the assassination attempt on the Iranian President succeeded. The Zionists mention “provocations” against it, like flotillas and ships trying to break the naval blockade on Gaza, yet what about the numerous Zionist provocations against Jordan, whether it involves al-Quds (East Jerusalem) and al-Aqsa or other stuff? It is interesting that the Zionists are going after trees near the Lebanese border, especially a day after their terrorist attack on Aqaba. Afterward the Zionist Air Force increased its illusionary “raids” on South Lebanon.

First it was at medium altitudes and then at a wider larger scale at lower altitudes. There were more wide targets the Zionist Air Force raided illusionary in South Lebanon. It seems to me that the Zionists are getting impatient about there being no war, especially since their terrorist atrocities against Gaza almost two years ago. The main target of the terrorist attack was Aqaba. The attack on the sea port on occupied Palestine was just a diversion, just to unjustly accuse those innocent of it. It’s kind of silly that the Zionists of Occupied Palestine attacked one of their sea ports to turn attention away from them.

Accusing the Egyptian Government is a strong accusation and some might say it would divide the Arabs because of it. What I say is that the Egyptian Government is already dividing the Arabs and it deserves to be accused of it without any hesitation. I would request that those from the Jordanian side investigating it to make bold announcements, and to have bright and open minds. I also request that they shrug off any pressure to change or manipulate the truth behind the attack. There is propaganda and falsehood that the Egyptians announce and mention to some media sources.

I would request the Jordanian media and news to ignore such propaganda and falsehood. Last, but not least, I would request the Jordanian Leadership and Government to forge closer ties with Hamas to have better relations and better intelligence.

Source: The Star Trail Lines.
Link: http://startrailines.blogspot.com/2010/08/zionist-terrorist-attack-on-aqaba.html.