Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

As Syria Continues To Simmer, Lebanon Remains in Limbo

January 16, 2013

Pat_BeirPatrick Henningsen
21stCentury Wire
Jan 16, 2012

BEIRUT – On arrival to Lebanon’s capital city, all seems very functional and normal on the surface, as the city runs business as usual.

Below the surface however, there is a feeling of trepidation, an unspoken collective worry that a city and country who has gradually managed to pick up the pieces from the decades-long conflict which stretched through the 70’s and 80’s, an Israeli occupation of its south, followed by a brief, albeit destructive, ‘33 Day War’ with Israel in 2006 – might once again be dragged into another sub-regional conflict. It goes without saying that police and security services in Lebanon are on high alert.

Tourism Hit Hard

The neighboring conflict has also had a very negative impact on Lebanon’s tourism, keeping away the much-needed outside currency for which many jobs, independent hotels and other SMEs are dependent for their economic survival. But despite the recent problems, Beirut is still moving ahead, still attracting some foreign investment made visible by the hundreds of new building projects springing up all over the city. And as expected, the restaurants seem busy and the cafes are still buzzing.

Already there is a tangible presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and in the capital Beirut, who have fled from the fighting and breakdown of society currently unfolding next door. The impact of the Syrian conflict on its neighbor Lebanon in such a short space of time is substantial.

Latest reports put the number of Syrian refugees recently accumulated in Lebanon at 300,000. This figure is contrasted by the number of Palestinian refugees whose ancestors fled Israel’s ethnic cleanings in 1947-48, still housed in Lebanon today – which is currently estimated at 500,000.

The Issue of Sectarianism

Lebanon is, more than ever, a demonstration of sectarianism par excellence. In of country of 4 million, there is differentiation within the Christian community – Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Melkite, Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic, as well as within and the Muslim community – Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Druze.  In addition to this, there is a substantial Armenian community, a large community of foreign nationals from the US and Europe, Asian and African migrant workers, and a small Jewish community. One might also note that the internal rifts between Christian and Muslim factions are almost as great as the polarity separating Christians and Muslim as a whole.

That said, it is also the only society in the region where contrasting religions and cultures are completely intermingled and where tolerance has evolved into a virtue.

Xmas

Co-existance: A scene from a recent Christmas illustrates the country’s diversity (PHOTO: Mary Henningsen)

In its totality, Lebanon consists of some of 19 religions and dozens more ethnic , groups. Many a thesis and book have sought to chronicle (and will continue to argue no doubt) this strive towards cultural détente in the Levant. One such writer is Lebanese-American Professor Walid Phares, who sums up the country’s current alignment as follows:

“Although multi-ethic and multi-religious, Lebanon was viewed by the political establishment as a unitary republic which can only have a majority and a minority. Therefore, and without a mechanism of decentralization, Federation or simply pluralism, that establishment was vying over who really represents the “majority” of all Lebanese, and who reduced to a “minority.” The debate was then about numbers, census, demographic changes, communities who have allegedly increased in numbers because of poverty versus communities who have decreased in numbers because of emigration. But that was a false problem.”

Much of the country’s political energy has been expended over the course of the last half century in determining who is the majority and who is the minority, and although the intention was to present a fair solution to representation in its central government, it has also been the source of internal power-politics, which some believe laid down a fertile soil for the sharp upheaval Lebanon experienced from 1975 onward.

Nowhere is the nation’s simmering ‘political ratio’ reflected more than in its own constitution – a document which goes to extraordinary lengths to secure some form of socio-religious balance. The Lebanese constitution mandates that the office President should be held by a Maronite Christian, the Speaker of the House held by a Shi’ite Muslim, and the post of Prime Minister held by a Sunni Muslim.

IMG_1457

Beirut shoulders a diverse collection of ethnic groups, along with their corresponding political issues (PHOTO: Patrick Henningsen)

Many academics such as Phares, feel that the future would be brighter if Lebanon would embrace its multicultural reality and take a feather out of Belgium’s or Canada’s cap, and consider phasing out its historical obsession with ethnic and religious minorities and majorities. In other words, if Lebanon could embrace ‘multiculturalism’, it wouldn’t need the old system. This idea is easier said than done, as vested political interests and blood spilled over decades has, to a large degree, cemented traditional political and social paradigms into place.

Syria Simmering Next Door

What’s foremost on the minds of Lebanese in 2013 is what will happen with Syria, and will Lebanon we dragged to their war. Alongside this, many are left questioning whether or not Lebanon will ever achieve some form of long-term peace with its southern neighbor Israel. The former is the key to its short-term prosperity, while the latter is the key to healing wounds still festering from the wars, as well as the influx of Palestinians it has had to shoulder since 1948.

The situation in Syria is made even more complex by the fact that a number of foreign powers with vested interests in Damascus regime change are supplying fighters, arms, logistics, money and mass media support – which has always been a recipe for chaos throughout history. Among these foreign actors vying for position in Syria are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, US, UK and France (somehow, it’s all beginning to look more and more like pre-WWI power-politics).

Syria has long played an overshadowing role in the stability – and destiny of its smaller neighbor Lebanon. The scares still run deep from Syria’s obtuse and often disjointed alliances with different factions over the course of Lebanon’s Civil Wars in the 70’s and 1980’s. The result of Syria’s hand in those affairs has been a dysfunctional, and often times confusing relationship between Damascus and Beirut, as well as the cause for political dysfunction within Beirut itself.

In 2013, however, the alignments are markedly different from previous decades. For starters, Syria, itself, is now a major piece on the global chessboard, not least of all because of its three major allies, all of whom seem to run contrary tocentral planning in the West – namely, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran and now Russia. All interested parties see Syria as the key domino, and this, rightly so, is the cause for much worry right now.

IMG_1323

Stunning countryside: Sunset over the historic Chouf mountain range in southern Lebanon (PHOTO: Patrick Henningsen)

Lebanon has a number of internal issues I’m sure it would prefer to sort out first before being dragged into another sub-regional conflagration – like it’s own central government, its economy, its potentially massive tourism trade, and of course, the Palestinian refugee issue.

Yesterday, I was able to travel south the ancient city of Tyre, some 16km from the the Israeli border. The ruins are stunning, but so are the Palestinian refugee camp which runs alongside it. It’s was a little tragic, if not amusing to discover there that some Palestinians in need of rock for building their homes had permanently borrowed some of the antiquity ruins next door. In a certain way, some five millennia of history puts the current protracted upheaval into some perspective.

IMG_1366

Ancient city of Tyre in Lebanon (PHOTO: Patrick Henningsen)

The recent past certainly has pulled Lebanon down in a spiral of social tension and extreme economic strife, but set against the larger backdrop of successive empires and cultures who have been overlaid on to this small, but historically pivotal region, it’s merely the latest chapter in a much larger epic novel. Many people outside of Lebanon – academics, archeologists, tourists – all long to see Lebanon achieve stability and one day showcase its incredible cultural and historical wealth to the world.

In essence, making the difficult transition from a fractured state, to one of stability and eventual prosperity. I talked about this to one long-term Beirut resident, named Jamal, who put it simply, “To do all this, first we need to have peace.”

It’s that simple. On paper anyway.

….

Writer Patrick Henningsen is a roving correspondent for the UK Column, as well as host of 21st Century Wire TV programme airing Thursdays at 6pm on PSTV SKY channel 191 in the UK.

….

New Cold War: Russia, China To Coodinate Response Against U.S. Global Missile Shield

January 11, 2013

Ria Novosti
Global Research
Jan 11, 2013

BEIJING: Russia and China are planning to intensify their cooperation on missile defense in response to America’s growing missile defense potential around the globe, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Wednesday.

“We are concerned about US plans to build a global missile defense system, including in the Asia-Pacific region,” Patrushev said during the 8th round of Russian-Chinese consultations on strategic security in Beijing.

“Our Chinese partners share our concerns and we have agreed to coordinate our actions in that respect,” he said, adding that it would help both countries to develop a “constructive” approach toward missile defense issue.

Russia and China have been keeping a close eye on US moves to deploy missile defenses around the arc of the South China Sea in addition to the planned European missile shield.

Washington and Tokyo agreed last September to construct an advanced X-band missile early-warning radar in southern Japan to join an existing AN/TPY-2 radar in Japan’s northern Aomori Prefecture.

Some reports suggest that US Missile Defense Agency and the US Pacific Command are considering a third such radar somewhere else in Southeast Asia, possibly in the Philippines.

Washington is also planning to expand the grouping of Aegis-equipped US warships that patrol international waters in the region.

Moscow and Beijing are objecting US missile defense initiatives saying they are worsening the global and regional security environment, especially military and nonproliferation processes, to the detriment of Russian and Chinese nuclear deterrents.

Russia and China have held regular bilateral consultations on strategic issues since 2005.

….
Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/stopnato/ messages

Stop NATO website and articles:

http://rickrozoff. wordpress. comTo subscribe for individual e-mails or the daily digest, unsubscribe, and otherwise change subscription status:
stopnato-subscribe@ yahoogroups. com

Henningsen on RT: ‘Syria is a gangster’s paradise right now’

January 9, 2013

21st Century Wire and UK Column’s analyst Patrick Henningsen discusses with RT about how NATO’s recent deployment of missile defense batteries in neighboring Turkey is nothing more than a chess move to prepare for western/NATO airstrikes at some point further down the timeline, and also how Syria’s so-called ‘opposition’ are using the chaos in the country to steal land, businesses and profit from the new black market that has replaced the previous economy.

Surprise: UK Minister Accuses Israel of ‘War Crimes’ Over Planned Settlement Expansions

December 28, 2012

Dec 28, 2012

Conservative British Minister has suggested that the Israeli regime is a war criminal for planning expansion of illegal settlements in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and conferring university status to a college in the illegal settlement of Ariel.

The regime announced on December 24 that it is planning new illegal settlements in the Mordot Gilo South adding Ariel College will be upgraded to university status effectively creating the first university in an illegal settlement.

A positive step: British Foreign Minister for Middle East Alistair Burt breaks ranks condemning Israeli policy.

“Last week Foreign Secretary William Hague made clear our condemnation and deep disappointment at the approval of the East Jerusalem Ramat Shlomo plan. We also condemn the Jerusalem District Planning Board’s approvals for over 3150 units in Givaat Hamatos and 1242 units in Mordot Gilo South,” British Foreign Minister for Middle East Alistair Burt said.

“These are further profoundly provocative actions that run contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he added.

Burt also said that the Ariel College decision is “deeply disappointing” and called on Tel Aviv to stop such measures.

“We reiterate our call on Israel urgently to reverse these decisions and take no further steps aimed at expanding or entrenching settlement activity,” he said.

Burt’s remarks are and the reference to breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention are yet the harshest tone employed by a British official against the Zionist regime.

The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention require all occupiers to avoid transferring parts of their population into occupied territories.

Burt’s comments expose the growing international unease against the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement-building in Palestinian lands to the point that a western government has been forced to admit what human rights activists have been long trying to highlight, that is the Israeli regime’s settlement-building is a war crime.

Source: Press TV

Protecting a Rotten Legacy: Blair’s War Crimes Blocks Iraq Inquiry

December 28, 2012

The Iraq inquiry is not to report before autumn 2013 due to the UK government’s reluctance to release papers showing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s conspiracy with ex-US President George Bush in waging an illegal war against the Arab country.

The inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said earlier that he will not be ready to publish the reports on the truth of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war before the middle of 2013, two years behind schedule.

Reg Keys, the father of Lance Corporal Tom Keys, who was killed in Iraq in 2003, and a founder of the campaign group Military Families against the War said the delay was “frustrating”.

“I can understand why Blair and a few others don’t want things to come out because there was deceit behind closed doors. But for me and the other families the delays just keep poking a wound that you’re trying to heal. You try to put things in a box but until this is done and dusted you can’t move on,” he said.

Earlier in June, Sir John wrote to British Prime Minister David Cameron, saying that his ability to publish a “balanced, fair and accurate” report was being hampered by the Cabinet Office, The Stop the War Coalition campaign group reported.

The Inquiry has cost £6.1 million so far. It is estimated that another year of investigation could cost the public an extra £1.4 million.

Source: Press TV

The Quality of Washington’s Plan to Drag Iran Into a Third World War

December 27, 2012

Fraternity Boy gone wrong: where did Patrick Clawson harvest all of his neo-conservative ideas?

21st Century Wire

They’re like school kids playing war games.

Listen to this supposedly qualified academic talking head, Patrick Clawson of the influential neo-con think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Studies – muse on about what underhanded stunts the US could hope for in kicking off WW3 in Iran.

Shameful, yet, someone is paying this guy good money to degraded American credibility abroad.

This is the quality of the garbage currently spewing out of most prestigious Washington think tanks. Clearly, they have lost touch with reality and should be treated as extensions of the international criminal class.

Q: How many other psychopaths are currently nibbling away at our liberties in these so-called ‘think tanks’?

….

Déjà Vu – Martin Luther King On Our Wars Yesterday, And Today

December 25, 2012

In the epic Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus attacked Socrates’ position that the idea justice is an inherent and equal right, claiming that it is just (by nature) that the strong rule over the weak. There are both men and women who seek and hold positions of power in our society – who subscribe to this very doctrine.

A few short decades ago, Martin Luther King spoke of a nation gone mad on war, and of wars at home and abroad as the engine of injustice and poverty in the west. At the time, his words were received uncomfortably by many in the USA – but history proved that he had vision and foresight. His words ring true again today.

So we pose the inevitable question: is justice and ethics progressing in the west, or are we regressing in a global tyranny? You answer is here…

….

South Africa’s ANC Makes Support for Israel Boycott Its Official Policy

December 22, 2012

For the first time ever, the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, today made the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel part of its official policy.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa said the decision “by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.”

In a press release sent out by email, BDS South Africa explained:

In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”

Read more

US Alone in Blocking UN Resolution Opposing New Israeli Settlements

December 20, 2012

But for US veto, Security Council would have passed legally binding resolution obligating Israel to stop settlement plan

The United States was alone on Wednesday when all other 14 members of the UN Security Council condemned Israeli settlement plans in Jerusalem after abandoning a legally binding resolution because of an imminent US veto.

The Security Council would have passed a legally binding resolution obligating Israel to refrain from building settlements in the  controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, which was a punitive attempt to nullify a contiguous Palestinian state following the successful UN-bid for implicit recognition of Palestinian statehood this month.

Instead, the council members decided to simply make statements condemning the settlement plans.

India’s U.N. ambassador, Hardeep Singh Puri, explained the process: “Consultations (on a resolution) were held amongst the members of the council and an attempt was made…(to see) if the 15th member could be accommodated,” said Puri, referring to the United States.

“But when we came to the conclusion that that was not likely to happen… it was felt that Plan B – which is what this is essentially – was for members of the council to come out individually and in groupings to make statements,” he said.

While the US has come out to criticize the new Israeli settlement plans, which are patently illegal and which are widely seen as dooming a two-state solution, they could not be brought to join the rest of the Security Council and block the plans.

The US also blocked a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in February of last year.

Washington continues to aid and abet Israel’s continuing, slow annexation of the West Bank through military occupation, demolishing Palestinian homes, and building up Jewish settlements in their place.

Source: Antiwar.com

Settlements Snarl: ‘Israel gambles on US protection from intl law’

December 18, 2012

Israel says it will go ahead with plans to build 1500 new settler homes in East Jerusalem – the part of the city that’s considered Palestinian land.

The project was given an intermediate green light by Israeli officials on Monday. This comes less then a month after the UN granted Palestine non-member observer status. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, and are promising to raise the issue at a Security Council meeting. Author and historian Gerald Horne says that with Palestine’s recent upgrade, Israel’s playing a risky game.