Libyan uprising

March 19, 2011

Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars into Israel: BBC

Hamas security personnel were among those wounded by Israeli shelling

Hamas security personnel were among those wounded by Israeli shelling

Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired dozens of missiles into southern Israel in what appears to be their heaviest such barrage in two years.

About 50 mortars were fired – two Israelis were hurt, Israel says.

Israeli tanks later shelled targets in the coastal strip, wounding at least five people, Palestinian officials say.

The Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, said it fired some of the mortars. Three days ago an Israeli air strike killed two of its members.

The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza says this seems to be an escalation – both in terms of the number of rockets fired from Gaza and the fact that Hamas said it was responsible.

Hamas’s military wing said it launched dozens of rockets, our correspondent reports.

Hamas and Israel have largely halted hostilities since the end of the Gaza war in January 2009, but skirmishes often break out around the border area.

Although members of Hamas’s military wing rarely carry out attacks, the Israeli military says it holds the group responsible for all militant activity in the Gaza Strip.

Israel lodges formal complaint with UN over barrage of Gaza mortars: Haaretz

In message to UN, Lieberman warns against supporting a future Palestinian ‘terrorist state who’s first and foremost goal is the destruction of Israel.’

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel’s United Nations envoy to lodge a formal complaint with the organization after Israel was hit by over 50 mortars fired from Gaza on Saturday morning.

Two people were lightly wounded and a home was damaged by the mortars. Hamas has claimed responsibility for 10 of the mortars.

Lieberman, in a message to the UN, warned that a future Palestinian state would be a “terrorist state who’s first and foremost goal is the destruction of Israel.”

The offensive from Gaza took place while “Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were talking about reunification,” Lieberman’s message said.

In the past week, there have been rallies in Hamas-ruled Gaza and Fatah-ruled West Bank calling for Palestinian reunification. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced two days ago that he intends to go to Gaza to end the more than three years of internal division between his Fatah party and Hamas.

Liberman wrote that the talk of reunification during the barrage of rockets shows that “the international support that the Palestinians are trying to garner would be support for the creation of a terrorist state.”

The Palestinians have been pressing leaders worldwide to recognize an independent Palestinian state, an issue they plan on bringing to a vote at September’s United Nations General Assembly.

Other Israeli officials also responded harshly to Saturday’s bombardment, with Kadima head Tzipi Livni saying that “the right way to contend with Hamas is with force.”

Likud MK Danny Danon said it was up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond harshly to the morning’s offensive.

IDF kills two Palestinian terrorists near Gaza border: Haaretz

IDF spokesman says soldiers identified terrorists and launched strike; Israel strikes Gaza after 50 mortars fired at Israel earlier Saturday.

IDF forces killed two Palestinian terrorists near the Gaza border on Saturday.

The IDF spokesperson said the terrorists were identified as nearing Israel’s border with Gaza so IDF armored forces launched a strike at the two Gazans, killing them both.

The attack comes after more than 50 mortars were fired from Gaza into southern Israel earlier Saturday, wounding two Israelis. Hamas claimed responsibility for 10 of the more than 50 mortars fired.

In response, IDF forces struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, wounding five Hamas security officers and a boy, Gaza medics reported.

Syria mourners call for revolt after deaths: The Independent

By Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters
Saturday, 19 March 2011
Thousands of mourners called on Saturday for “revolution” at the funeral of protesters killed by Syrian security forces, the boldest challenge to Syria’s rulers since uprisings began sweeping the Arab world.

Security forces responded by firing tear gas to disperse crowds in Deraa, a tribal region south of the capital where at least 10,000 people demonstrated on Saturday at the funeral of two protesters, among at least four who were killed on Friday.

“Revolution, revolution. Rise up Hauran,” chanted the mourners in Deraa, administrative capital of the strategic Hauran plateau, as they marched behind simple wood coffins of Wissam Ayyash and Mahmoud al-Jawabra.

“God, Syria, Freedom. Whoever kills his own people is a traitor,” they said. Some of the mourners exited a mosque and headed for the centre to protest.

The city was less tense by late afternoon after security forces dispersed most of the crowd and adopted less aggressive tactics than the previous day, residents said.

The two were killed when security forces opened fire on Friday on civilians taking part in a peaceful protest demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption in Syria, which has been ruled under emergency laws by President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party for nearly half a century.

A third man who was killed on Friday, Ayhem al-Hariri, was buried in a village near Deraa earlier on Saturday. A fourth protester, Adnan Akrad, died on Saturday from his wounds.

Secret police at the main funeral in Deraa arrested at least one mourner, activists said. Security was heavy in the city, especially around police stations.

The city of Deraa is home to thousands of displaced people from eastern Syria, where up to 1 million people have left their homes because of a water crisis over the past six years. Experts say state mismanagement of resources has worsened the crisis.

The Hauran region, once a Middle East bread basket, has also been affected by diminishing water levels, with yields per hectare falling by a quarter in Deraa last year.

Protests against Syria’s ruling elite, inspired by revolts in the Arab world, have gathered momentum this week after a silent protest in Damascus by 150 people demanding the release of thousands of political prisoners.

At least one activist from Deraa, Diana al-Jawabra, took part in the protest. She was arrested faces charges of weakening national morale, along with 32 jailed protesters, a lawyer said.

Jawabra, who is from a prominent tribe, was campaigning for the release of 15 schoolchildren arrested in Deraa this month after writing slogans on walls, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that swept their autocratic leaders from power.

Residents say the children’s arrests deepened feelings of repression and helped fuel the protests in Deraa, the biggest threat yet to the authority of Assad.

Assad said in a January interview Syria’s leadership was “very closely linked to the beliefs of the people” and there was no mass discontent.

“The leadership have given a clear signal that they are not in any hurry to embark on fundamental political reform,” said a diplomat in the Syrian capital.

In a move seen as an attempt to address the discontent, Assad issued a decree on Saturday lessening mandatory army conscription from 21 months to 18 months.

The long conscription period has generated discontent, especially among the youth who resent state tactics to bring them into service, such as random ID checking, and the withholding of food aid from families whose members escaped conscription.

Yemen opposition activists clash with police: Al Jazeera English

Security forces open fire in southern city of Aden, a day after emergency was declared following a bloody crackdown.
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2011

Yemen seethed with anger on Saturday as medics raised the death toll from a sniper attack on protesters to 52 [AFP]
Police have stormed a protest camp in southern Yemen where thousands are calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s longtime president.

Saturday’s raid was the latest attempt by security forces to quell growing unrest.

Protesters say police fired tear gas and live rounds in the southern port city of Aden, wounding three anti-government protesters.

Meanwhile, two prominent members of Yemen’s ruling party resigned on Saturday in protest against the killing of the anti-government protesters a day before.

“I find myself compelled to submit my resignation … after the heinous massacre in Sanaa yesterday,” Nasr Taha Mustafa, head of the state news agency and a leading ruling party member, said.

While, Mohamed Saleh Qara’a, another party member, told Reuters he had quit because of the “completely unacceptable” violence.

Saleh declared on Friday a nationwide state of emergency after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests left at least 52 people dead and scores more wounded in the capital, Sanaa.

He said that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made by the country’s National Security Council, but there was no immediate indication of how long it would last.

“The National Security Council announces a state of emergency across Yemen, and a curfew is set upon
armed people in all Yemeni provinces. And the security forces with the army will take responsibility for
stability,” he said.

He also expressed “sorrow for what happened in the university square” on Friday.

Sources told Al Jazeera the security forces opened fire in attempts to prevent protesters from marching out of the square where they were gathered. Medical sources said the death toll was likely to rise.

The attack came as thousands gathered across the country, continuing to demand that Saleh – the country’s ruler of 32 years – step down.

Al Jazeera correspondents in Sanaa reported that many protesters were shot in the head and neck; most of the injured were shot with live ammunition.

Medics at a nearby medical centre told Al Jazeera almost 200 people were injured; many were in critical condition. One medic called the attack a “massacre”.

Anti-government demonstrations were also held in other cities including Taiz, Ibb, Hodeidah, Aden, and Amran following Muslim midday prayers on Friday.

Government forces have previously used live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas on anti-regime rallies, in the government’s increasingly violent crackdown on protests.

Yemen, the Arabian peninsula state neighbouring Saudi Arabia, has been hit by weeks of protests set in motion by uprisings in North Africa that toppled long-serving leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and spread to the Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Saleh has maintained a firm grip on power for over three decades and has scoffed at calls to step down, saying he will only do so when his current term of office expires in 2013.

Despite violence and threats, anti-government protesters refuse to cease demonstrating until Saleh’s removal.

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March 5, 2011

‘Construction in West Bank settlements quadrupled since end of temporary freeze’: Haaretz

According to data by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, settlers began building over 114 houses during the 10-month settlement freeze, and began construction of over 427 houses since October 2010.
Since the end of the settlement moratorium five months ago, the construction rate in West Bank neighborhoods has quadrupled, data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed Saturday.

According to the data, over 114 housing units that settlers started building during the 10-month settlement freeze have been completed, as well as over 1,175 housing units which were started before the temporary moratorium.

The data also reveals that construction of over 427 housing units has begun since October 2010.

The Central Bureau of Statistics noted, however, that the data is based on partial information, and that there has also been a dramatic rise in illegal construction in West Bank outposts that has not been officially documented.

The data does not include caravans and tents that are often placed in illegal outposts to settle the land.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been on hold since Israel’s 10-month freeze on new settlements expired at the end of September 2010.

Is entertaining dictators worse than normalizing apartheid?: The Electronic Intifada

Nada Elia and Laurie King, 3 March 2011

As revolutions continue to sweep the Arab world, and the days of dictators seem numbered, we are learning a lot about the ties and alliances that have long characterized the west’s dealing with tyrants around the globe. “Stability,” apparently, requires us to make deals with the devil. And so we discover that the United States has long known about the human rights abuses of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, deposed Tunisian president Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali, and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. But it was willing nonetheless not only to turn a blind eye to these, but even to enable and fund, directly or indirectly, oppressive regimes, for the sake of what exactly? Oil? Corporations? The so-called “peace process?” Iraqi “freedom?” Israel’s security?

And as Arab tyrants are challenged, one by one, social media are abuzz with the embarrassing and numerous compliments and kind remarks that western heads of state, academics, pundits, and entertainers have given these deposed dictators. In a typical statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, said in 2009: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” Apparently, the Clinton-Mubarak friendship goes back about 20 years. Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, a close friend of Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son and fourth in line to the British throne, has been a guest at Windsor Castle and Buckingham palace. The list is long.

But as the people seem determined to overthrow all those oppressive regimes, liberal Americans are openly questioning the wisdom and morality of “dealing with the devil.” In a highly critical segment on Anderson Cooper’s program AC 360, Cooper, a CNN journalist exhibiting an unusual level of courage and integrity among mainstream American media personalities, called out the various US presidents who have welcomed Gaddafi into their diplomatic circles, even as they acknowledged his tendency towards malice and mental instability, best epitomized by Ronald Reagan’s name for him: “the madman of the desert” (KTH: The West and Gadhafi’s regime,” 24 February 2011).

In that same episode, Cooper was critical of American artists Beyonce, Usher, and Mariah Carey, all three of whom gave private performances for the Gaddafis. Carey apparently received one million dollars for performing four songs for the Gaddafis on New Year in 2009. The following year, it was Beyonce and Usher who graced the Libyan dictator’s New Year’s celebration. Cooper asked why artists would perform for tyrants, and suggested that they donate the money they received to the Libyan people.

The news item was quickly picked up by other media. Rolling Stone magazine also ran an article stating that the music industry is lashing out at these artists, and quoting David T. Viecelli, agent for Arcade Fire and many other acts, as saying “Given what we know about Qaddafi and what his rule has been about, you have to willfully turn a blind eye in order to accept that money, and I don’t think it’s ethical” (Industry Lashes Out at Mariah, Beyonce and Others Who Played for Qaddafi’s Family,” 25 February 2011).

Amid all this uproar, Canadian singer Nelly Furtado announced on Twitter that she would donate to charity a one million dollar fee she received to perform for the Gaddafi family in 2007 (“Nelly Furtado to give away $1 million Gaddafi fee,” Reuters, 1 March 2011).

Those of us who have long been engaged in Palestine justice activism cannot help but notice glaring double-standards in these denunciations of the various deals with devils. And at this critical point in the history of the Arab world, we must request that our readers begin to “connect the dots” throughout the region. Is entertaining dictators a lesser crime than normalizing Israeli apartheid?

Why hold artists accountable for performing at the behest of tyrants, and let them off the hook for whitewashing Israel’s regime which engages in massive human rights abuses, all subsidized by the United States government?

Why not call out Beyonce, Usher, Mariah Carey, and so many other artists, all of whom have performed in Israel, a state which practices a form of apartheid worse than anything the South African apartheid government had ever done? In 1973, the United Nations General Assembly defined the crime of Apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” As Israel’s official policy privileges Jewish nationals over non-Jewish citizens, creating de facto and de jure discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people, it is hard to dispute that this supposed “democracy” is in reality an apartheid state.

Many of the discriminatory measures Israel practices today were unthought of in apartheid South Africa. In his powerful essay, “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” penned shortly after his return from a visit to the West Bank, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa” (“Apartheid in the Holy Land,” The Guardian, 29 April 2002).

In 2009, a comprehensive study by South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council confirmed that Israel is practicing both colonialism and apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories.

That study was inspired by the observations of John Dugard, South African law professor and former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, who wrote in 2006: “Israel’s large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassination of Palestinians far exceeded any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites.” And no roads were ever built for whites only in South Africa either, while Israel continues to build Jewish-only roads, cutting through the Palestinian landscape.

Israel’s form of apartheid includes the crippling blockade of Gaza; the ongoing seizure of Palestinian land and water sources; construction of the West Bank apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in The Hague; the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem; the denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees and discriminatory laws and mounting threats of expulsion against the 1.2 million Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship.

And as word inevitably gets out, because we are no longer pleading for permission to narrate, but seizing our right to expose these crimes, Israel is hard at work trying to fix its image, without changing the policies and actions that have tarnished that image. As it cements its apartheid policies, Israel is funneling millions of dollars into burnishing its public image as a culturally vibrant, progressive, and thriving democracy.

Among its PR moves is the cultural “Re-Brand” campaign. Israel is intentionally inviting international artists to such “hip” places as Tel Aviv to mask the ugly face of occupation, apartheid, displacement, and dispossession. If we are to hold artists accountable for their choice of performance venues and income sources — as indeed we should — then we should hold them accountable for complicity in normalizing apartheid no less than for entertaining dictators.

In an important article that appeared in The Grio, Lori Adelman also asks: “Why are black pop stars performing at the behest of dictators?” before making the comparison to Sun City, the extravagant whites-only entertainment resort city in apartheid South Africa. And she reminds her readers of the impact of the Artists United Against Apartheid music project, which contributed one million dollars for anti-Apartheid efforts and, most importantly, raised awareness about the global power of artists to influence political discourse on human rights issues (“Why are black pop stars performing at the behest of dictators?,” 24 February 2011).

Today, there is global awareness of Israel’s numerous crimes. And there is a call for artists to boycott Israel, until the country abides by international law. The call was issued in 2005 by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (www.pacbi.org/). In the US, where we live, the campaign is coordinated by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. When we learn of an artist who is planning to perform in Tel Aviv, we contact them, inform them of the reality on the ground (should they need such information), and urge them to reconsider and cancel any concerts they may have scheduled. Many have already done so, including the industry’s biggest names: Carlos Santana, Bono, The Pixies, Elvis Costello and Gil Scott-Heron. Folk legend Pete Seeger also recently announced his support for boycotting Israel.

In what may be the most eloquent statement to date, Costello wrote: “One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament. Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent. … Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way” (“It Is After Considerable Contemplation …,” 15 May 2010).

Today, Artists Against Apartheid are still around, and they are active in promoting the boycott of a country that is practicing apartheid in the 21st century, namely Israel. The question should be, then, if artists boycotted Sun City, shouldn’t they also boycott Tel Aviv? Why the outrage when Beyonce entertains Gaddafi, but not when Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and so many more, entertain apartheid in Israel?

Laurie King, an anthropologist, is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

Nada Elia is a member of the Organizing Committee of USACBI, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (Facebook).

The people of Libya want freedom, Obama wants oil! by Carlos Latuff

EDITOR: The Winds of Change blow hard

It seems that the general disenchantment with the so-called ‘Two State Solution’ has reached an all time high. This ploy is now seen to be what it has always been – a crude attempt to derail Palestinians from even trying to achieve freedom and equality as well as full political rights, by continuously dangling this mantra in front of them. There has never been such a ‘solution’, as far as Israel is concerned – it was a way of getting international support while enlarging and enhancing its illegal settlements, and acquiring more control over the land and its resources, while oppressing the Palestinian population.

As this understanding is now widely spread, and the talk of a single state is also spreading and advancing, Netanyahu is forced to speak against it. This must be a sign of the growing strength of this tendency.

Netanyahu: Binational state would be disastrous for Israel: Haaretz

Comment comes as Prime Minister expected to present Mideast peace initiative after weeks of intense international pressure over the apparent peace talks deadlock.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected in the coming weeks to put forward a peace initiative in a bid to break through the deadlock in the peace process and extricate Israel from international isolation.

Netanyahu has warned in recent days during closed meetings that “a binational state would be disastrous for Israel,” and therefore it is necessary to undertake a political move that will remove this threat.

In recent weeks the prime minister has come under intense international pressure over Israel’s policies. Europe’s unequivocal stance against Israel at the Security Council vote on the issue of the settlements, the rebuke that accompanied the U.S. veto, and the unpleasant telephone exchange with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week reportedly shook Netanyahu.

Moreover, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations are working together to push through an unprecedented agreement during the Quartet’s meeting in Paris in a week. According to the draft of the agreement that is being passed between the parties, the Quartet will declare that a Palestinian state will be established on the basis of the 1967 borders, with some land swaps.

In some of the drafts East Jerusalem is mentioned as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office say that in recent weeks Netanyahu has been talking with the Obama administration in order to formulate a program that would restart the peace process.

His adviser, Ron Dermer, flew secretly to Washington a week ago and met with senior White House officials. U.S. envoys Dennis Ross and Fred Hoff also visited Israel and met with Netanyahu.

“The prime minister has realized that the political impasse is not working in favor of Israel,” one of Netanyahu’s advisers said.

“Following a few weeks of revolution in the Arab world he is convinced that there are opportunities, not just threats, and that it is important to take advantage of the situation that was created in order to restart the peace process and put an end to the unilateral initiatives of the Palestinians.”

In private talks recently, Netanyahu has reportedly begun discussing the growing threat of a binational state.

“This trend will intensify and become stronger,” Netanyahu told his advisers. “However there are those in Israel who think that one state is a good idea. I think it is a disaster.”

Netanyahu would like to announce his peace plan in a speech in the coming weeks. One of the ideas being considered is that Netanyahu would speak before a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Washington for an AIPAC conference in May, but his advisers are trying to move the trip to an earlier date. Discussion of a speech before a joint session was central to the talks between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House.

A well-positioned Israeli source said that at this stage U.S. President Barack Obama and his advisers are reluctant to run with the idea over fears it has the imprint of talks between Netanyahu’s advisers and Republic Congressmen. Moreover, the White House is not yet convinced that Netanyahu’s speech will have sufficient substance for it to constitute a political breakthrough.

“The prime minister wants to move ahead substantively but he wants to know that he has American backing,” one of Netanyahu’s advisers said. “If the U.S. administration goes with him, he is willing to undertake compromises and take difficult steps.”

A senior source in Netanyahu’s bureau said that the prime minister had held talks about how to proceed forward with a small number of advisers, including ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, in order to avoid leaks. Defense Minister Ehud Barak participated in some of the meetings.

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February 27, 2011

EDITOR: How much longer for the Butcher of Tripoli?

 

All around Gaddafi, his trusted henchmen are deserting him, despite having worked for him for long decades. While one may well question their sudden democratic zeal, it is clear they know a sinking ship when they see one… His days must now be numbered, but the danger he poses to his countrymen is all the more potent, as he now knows that he is finished, with nothing much to lose but his head.

Gaddafi’s defectors denounce ‘government of Mussolini and Hitler': BBC

Some of the former Libyan ministers and diplomats who have turned on the regime of Muammar Gaddafi

Libya's envoy to the United Nations, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, is embraced by his deputy after denouncing Gaddafi. Photograph: Jason Szenes/EPA

Abdurrahman Shalgham, Libyan ambassador to the United Nations

Previously a Gaddafi loyalist and a long-standing friend of the dictator, Shalgham pleaded with the security council to “save Libya” from its leader.

He said he “could not believe” Muammar Gaddafi’s troops were firing on the protesters, and backed sanctions against him. In an impassioned speech, he said the protesters were asking for their rights. “They did not throw a single stone and they were killed. I tell my brother Gaddafi: leave the Libyans alone.” When Shalgham finished addressing the security council, he was embraced by his weeping deputy, Ibrahim Dabbashi, another former Gadaffi loyalist, who had defected days earlier. Dabbashi described Gadaffi as a “madman” who would never resign.

General Abdel Fattah Younes al-Abidi, former interior minister

Al-Abidi was sent to Benghazi to ensure the suppression of the protests. Instead, he rang Gaddafi and persuaded him not to use warplanes to crush the rebels. Since al-Abidi had responsibility for training the regime’s elite forces, his announcement was a severe blow to Gaddafi.

An apparent assassination attempt persuaded the general to join the uprising, saying: “I hereby announce that I have abandoned all my duties to respond to the 17 February revolution.”

Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, former justice minister

Resigned last week and said he expected Gaddafi to make good on his pledge to die on Libyan soil. “Gaddafi’s days are numbered,” he said. “He will do what Hitler did – he will take his own life.” He also told a Swedish newspaper that he knew that Gaddafi was employing foreign mercenaries. “I knew that the regime had mercenaries before the uprising,” he said. “The government decided in several meetings to grant citizenship to the [mercenaries] from Chad and Niger. That was something that I objected to.”

Abdel-Jalil claims he has proof that Gaddafi personally ordered Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to carry out the Lockerbie attack in 1988. Libyan efforts to get al-Megrahi home in 2009 were motivated primarily by Gaddafi’s desire to “hide” the truth ahead of the bomber’s appeal against his sentence, he said.

Suleiman Aujali, Libyan ambassador to the United States

Resigned last Tuesday, saying: “I am resigning from serving the regime I am serving, but not resigning from serving our people. They need me to be around to get the international community to raise their voice, to stop this massacre.” Aujali was made ambassador to the US on 6 January 2009. In September 2009, he defended the transfer of al-Megrahi from Scotland to Libya, arguing that most Libyans thought he was falsely convicted.

Two other Libyans have also resigned from the Washington DC mission, according to al-Jazeera. Saleh Ali al-Majbari and Jumaa Faris denounced Gaddafi, saying he “bears responsibility for genocide against the Libyan people in which he has used mercenaries”.

Mohamed Salaheddine Zarem, Libya’s ambassador to France, and Abdulsalam el-Qallali, the ambassador to Unesco

Both have also resigned. El-Qallali said: “We condemn the repression taking place in Libya and the extreme violence carried out by militia security forces against peaceful protesters who only demand freedom and dignity. We confirm our support for the revolution.”

Ali al-Essawi, Libyan ambassador to India

Resigned after condemning the use of foreign mercenaries to quell protests.

Abdel Moneim al-Huny, Libya’s permanent representative in the Arab League

Announced resignation last Sunday. Al-Huny said Gaddafi, his commanders and aides should be put on trial for “the mass killings in Libya”. He said: “Gaddafi’s regime is now in the dustbin of history because he betrayed his nation and his people.”

Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, senior Libyan diplomat in Beijing

Told Al-Jazeera: “I resigned from representing the government of Mussolini and Hitler.”

Air force pilots

Two Libyan pilots defected to Malta by landing their Mirage F1 fighter jets on the island after disobeying orders to attack protesters in Benghazi.

Interim Libyan govt wins support: Al Jazeera online

“Caretaker administration” led by former justice minister gains the endorsement of the Libyan envoys to the UN and US.

27 Feb 2011

Ali Aujali, Libya’s ambassador to the United States, has said that he supports the interim government being formed in Benghazi by the country’s former minister of justice.

Aujali said on Saturday the caretaker administration, which announced it would lead the country for three months to prepare for elections, was “the government for the whole of Libya”.

“We want to support this government as the caretaker government until the liberation of all of Libya, which I hope will happen very soon,” he said.

Libya’s deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, also said on Saturday that his delegation supported “in principle” Abud Ajleil’s caretaker government.

“In principle we support this government,” Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi, told Reuters. “We are seeking more information about it, but yes, I think we support it.”

Former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil – who resigned from Gaddafi’s cabinet on Monday in protest at the killing of protesters – earlier told Al Jazeera he had led the formation of an interim government based in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, in the eastern part of the country now largely free of Gaddafi’s control.

He said the transitional government “has military and civilian personalities”.

“It will lead for no more than three months – and then there will be fair elections and the people will choose their leader,” he said.

Aujali, a veteran Libyan diplomat, praised Abdel Jalil.

“He is a very honest man. He was in charge of the justice issue in the eastern part of Libya when the regime asked him to hang an innocent Libyan citizen and he refused,” Aujali said.

“I am sure he will gain support of all Libyans and of the international community,” he added.

The Guardian, February 26 2011, by Martin Rowson

Libya: UN Security Council votes sanctions on Gaddafi: BBC

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime for its attempts to put down an uprising.

They backed an arms embargo and asset freeze while referring Col Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

US President Barack Obama has said the Libyan leader should step down and leave the country immediately.

He still controls Tripoli, but eastern Libya has fallen to the uprising.

Discussions on forming an anti-Gaddafi transitional government are reportedly under way.

Sanctions
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil – who resigned as justice minister in protest against the excessive use of force against demonstrators – said a body comprising military and civilian figures would prepare for elections within three months, Libya’s privately-owned Quryna newspaper reported.

Libya’s ambassadors to the United States and UN have both reportedly voiced their support for the plan, which was being discussed in the rebel-controlled eastern town of Benghazi.

The UN estimates more than 1,000 people have died as Col Gadddafi’s regime attempted to quell the 10-day-old revolt.

Saturday night’s vote was only the second time the Security Council has referred a country to the ICC, and the first time such a vote has been unanimous.

The most controversial debate over the Libya resolution was whether to refer the government crackdown to the ICC for an investigation.

This is a very sensitive issue: some Council members view the ICC as a threat to national sovereignty, and worry that referrals may set a precedent which could be used against them.

A day of intense negotiations saw three positions emerge: Strong opponents (China), strong advocates (UK, France and Germany) and those in between (almost everyone else).

The middle ground eventually swung behind the proposal, leaving China the only holdout. In the end Beijing joined the consensus.

The Council has only referred one other country to the ICC (Sudan in 2005) and that vote was not unanimous. Analysts said the speed and strength of Saturday’s decision was due to reports of excessive regime brutality in Libya.

Strong condemnations by the Arab League and African Union also had influence, as did clear support for the ICC referral from Libya’s UN Mission.

Afterwards, Libya’s deputy UN envoy said the sanctions would give “moral support” to the anti-Gaddafi protesters.

“[The sanctions] will help put an end to this fascist regime which is still in existence in Tripoli,” said Ibrahim Dabbashi, who declared his opposition to Col Gaddafi at the start of the week.

The Libyan delegation at the UN had sent a letter to the Council backing measures to hold to account those responsible for armed attacks on Libyan civilians, including action through the International Criminal Court – which had been one of the main points of contention in the resolution.

The US has already imposed sanctions against Libya, and closed its embassy in Tripoli.

Australia says it will place sanctions on 22 individuals in Col Gaddafi’s inner circle. barring financial transactions and their entry to Australia.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the move was a “concrete demonstration of Australia’s support for the people of Libya”.

Struggle for control
On Saturday, one of Col Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, insisted that normal life was continuing in three-quarters of Libya. By contrast, anti-Gaddafi forces say they control 80% of the country.

The claims are difficult to verify but it is known that anti-Gaddafi forces control Benghazi, Libya’s second city, while the long-time leader still controls most of the capital, Tripoli, home to two million of the country’s 6.5 million population.

Tripoli was calm on Saturday, with shops open and people on the streets. Supporters of Col Gaddafi reportedly occupied central Green Square in a public show of support for the beleaguered leader.

However, in the working-class area of Tajoura, scene of protests in previous days, residents set up makeshift roadblocks composed of rocks, concrete blocks and even chopped-down palm trees in an effort to stop vehicles carrying armed Gaddafi loyalists from entering the neighbourhood.

Outside the capital, anti-Gaddafi protesters were consolidating their power in Benghazi, with leaders of the uprising establishing committees to run the city and deliver basic services.

Rebels were reportedly fighting units of the regular army in the western cities of Misrata and Zawiya.

Evacuation
Thousands of foreign nationals – many of them employed in the oil industry – continue to be evacuated from the country by air, sea and land.

On Saturday, two British military transport aircraft picked up about 150 foreign nationals in the desert south of Benghazi and flew them to the Mediterranean island of Malta.

Britain also announced it had temporarily closed its embassy in Tripoli and pulled out its staff on the last UK government-chartered aircraft because of the deteriorating security situation.

Some 10,000 people remain outside Tripoli airport’s terminal building and several thousand more are inside, says BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, who saw piles of discarded luggage abandoned by people desperate to flee the country.

Most of those trying to leave were Egyptians, many of whom had been waiting at the airport for several days.

Thousands of Egyptians have also been streaming out of Libya over the western border to Tunisia.

The BBC’s Jim Muir, on the Tunisian side of the border, says the workers face an appalling situation, with no resources to move on and no sanitary facilities.

He says the Tunisian army aims to relocate the workers to camps but this could take weeks.

And the Tunisian government installed after Presiden Zine Abidine Ben Ali was deposed in January is preoccupied with its own affairs, our correspondent says. There were renewed anti-government protests in Tunis on Saturday in which three people were killed.

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February 21, 2011

EDITOR: The Arab Intifada marches on across the region: Endgame in Libya is intensifying

Despite the initial victories in Tunisia and Egypt, the western front continues to support all tyrants until they are toppled 0 a recipe for continued hatred towards those countries without which the tyrants would never have lasted as long as they have. One wonders how many of those dictators must disappear brfore Washington, London and Paris might start thinking logically, not to say morally.

We are told that important financial calculation are directing this abysmal behaviour; if so, they are directing it into a crash, for sure. The new democratic governments which will start working soon in all the countries now under the sway of protesters, will not easily forget and forgive this behaviour of the west. In that sense, the west is not just acting, as it has all along, against democracy and human rights in these countries, but also against iots own interests.

The uprising in Libya is meeting the full might of the mad ruler, who is prepared to kill any number to continue his rule. Despite the barbarous attacks by the criminal ‘security forces’, and by numerous mercenaries from other African countries, shooting to kill, it seems that the end of this could only be the decapitating of this murderous regime, and sooner rather than later. Once the great fear of the regime has dissipated, as happened elsewhere, the bravery and anger will bring about welcome change.

Some time ago, William Hague, the UK foreign Secretary, has claimed he heard that Gadaffi is on his way to Venezuela, a rumour quickly scotched by the Venezuelans. One hopes that Chavez is not mad enough for such a move, offering the Butcher of Libya what the Saudi king has offered the deposed Tunisian leader… This could lead to protest close to home, in Caracas itself, for a change!

The only prpoer place for the Butcher is in the Court, where he will be dealt the justice he denied his own citizens for 42 years.

This may well concern the US and UK, whose many commercial and defense deals with sultans and Emirs across the region, once presented as great successes, now look decidedly dubious and rickety. One waits with some enjoyment for the changed tune in the western capitals…

It seems Obama, the Nobel Peace Laureate, has gone underground, on Friday, and since then has had nothing to say about Libya or Bahrain. He really should get out more… Until now, he has manged to make Dubya like a real peace activist! It is also apparent that Gaddafi himself has gone somewhere, as he has disappeared at the same time as Obama, so maybe they are somewhere together?

Support of the Israeli Peace Camp for the Autocratic Palestinian Regime

Tikva Honig-Parnass
The Zionist left has always supported US imperialism and its autocratic Arab allies, claiming that US policy seeks to enforce peace and democracy in the Middle East. This claim has likewise been the pretext for their support of the PA police state in the
making. However, Uri Avnery’s embrace of Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad’s oppressive regime lays bare an appalling fact: the genuine Palestinian national movement has no partner, even within the most radical wing of Israel’s so-called “peace camp.”
Introduction
Academics and publicists from the Zionist left have persistently distorted the notion of democracy when insisting on applying it to the political regime in Israel. Despite the fact that some admit the “stains in Israel’s democracy,” they support the definition of Israel as a “Jewish state,” which implies the structural discrimination and marginalization of the indigenous Palestinian population. They usually cling to the misleading argument that the preference of Jews does not violate the equality of individual citizenship rights held by the Palestinians in Israel. This hypocritical stance of the self-proclaimed “liberals” has been largely sustained by the prevailing political culture, which they themselves actively helped create: namely, the state-centered culture portrayed by the late sociologist Baruch Kimmerling as “semi-fascist”. Accordingly, the values of individual human rights, the essence of democracy, are perceived as subservient to state security.
Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science has well represented the role of the intellectual on the Zionist left in granting “scientific” confirmation to the definition of the Zionist settler state as “democracy.” For example, he depicts the Law of Return – which is central to the Apartheid nature of the Israeli legal infrastructure as just an “immigration law,” no different from immigration laws in other democratic states such as the US and Norway’ 1.
Now, in wake of the popular uprising in Egypt that threatens the other dictatorial regimes across the Middle East, Shlomo Avinery has come up with a new insight on the imperative commitment of democrats to fight against an autocratic regime. He expressly argues that a peace treaty – which ensures the “security” of Israel – is a top “moral” value that justifies the past support of Mubarak’s totalitarian “internal” regime:
“Recently, we here were presented with a rather problematic choice: Do we support democracy, or do we support the Israeli interest in maintaining security and stability? When a moral value (democracy ) is thus posited against realpolitik (stability and
security), it is easy to lapse into the argument that Peace is not only a political, military and security arrangement; it is also a moral value. The fact that for 30 years not a single Israeli or Egyptian soldier was killed in hostile activities on our common
border, […] is not only a strategic achievement, but a moral achievement of the highest order, credit for which goes to political leaders on both sides.”
In his effort to justify the alliance with Mubarak and belittle his brutal oppression of the Egyptian people, Avineri makes a most bizarre comparison: [..]”Just as it is permissible to praise former Prime Minister Menachem Begin for achieving peace with Egypt, without agreeing with many of his views it is permissible to praise former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for his determination, sometimes under great pressure, to preserve the peace initiated by his predecessor Anwar Sadat. That is not support for a despot; it’s support for the moral content of peace.”
The lip service paid to “Israel’s interest in democracy in Egypt” is soon wiped out by the summary of his main message to Israelis – and, indirectly, to Egyptians as well: “But Egypt’s internal regime is the business of its own citizens, and we would do well not to try to advise them whom to elect and whom not to elect. In any event, the moral aspect of peace, which is based on the principle of preserving human life and its quality of life, must be a guide to us, as to Egyptian society that has now embarked on a new path”.
Avineri’s indifference toward Mubarak’s despotic regime (and any regime that would replace his) because of Israel’s interests in peace with Egypt, is merely the expression of US imperial strategy in the Middle East (and elsewhere), to which Israel is a lesser partner. This strategy consists of supporting even the most brutal oppressive regimes as long as they sustain their submission to US interests. A recent article by Noam Chomsky deals with, among other things, US concerns about the “shock wave throughout the region set in motion by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that drove out western-backed dictators.” He reminds us of
what he has been emphasizing for a long time: “Washington and its allies keep to the well established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives [..]The nature of any regime it backs in the Arab world is secondary to control. Subjects are ignored until they break their chains.” 2
This is the true meaning of the “morality” that Prof. Avineri attributes to “maintaining security and stability” through peace with Egypt. He should know better the role of this “peace” in sustaining US and Israeli interests by fortifying the “moderate block” of the despotic Arab states. Their joint aim is to eliminate “secular nationalism,” including the national rights of the Palestinian people. Mubarak’s Egypt fully complied with Israel and the US in blocking a peace agreement that would recognize these rights, as has long since been known.
Shlomo Avineri’s doctrine of privileging Israel’s “security” over “internal” democracy, in the case of Egypt, has usually been adopted by leftist Zionists in regard to the Palestinian Authority, albeit without admitting it explicitly. It was Labor PM Ytzhak Rabin who justified Israeli “concessions” in the Oslo Accords on the grounds that the Accords would bring about a collaborative Palestinian Authority that would repress resistance “without [the shackles] of [Israel’s] Supreme Court and [the human rights organization] B’tselem.” And indeed, the Zionist left has embraced the autocratic regime that has developed under the PA, which thus granted the PA recognition as an “appropriate” partner for peace. This support for the oppressive and collaborationist PA has been shared by even the most militant wing of the Israeli peace camp. The release of the Al Jazeera documents, and Uri Avineri’s response to them, have contributed the ultimate proof of this shameful support. These documents revealed the full compliance of the Palestinian leadership with US-Israeli demands, as well as their collaboration with the latter’s schemes to do away with the national Palestinian movement. 3
Gush Shalom, founded and led by Uri Avnery, responded to the Al Jazeera papers in its weekly statement in Haaretz of January 28, 2011, saying: “The Al Jazeera Disclosures prove: The Palestinians have no partner for peace.” Indeed, the “Palestine Papers” confirm in every detail that, during the last decade, Israeli governments have objected to any potential plan for peace settlement, while simultaneously entrenching the occupation regime in the ’67 conquered territories. The papers disclose what was known to anyone who refused to take part in welcoming the charade of the peace process or to believe that it would lead to a peace settlement that would fulfill the Palestinians’ national aspirations. Uri Avney has played a significant role in creating and sustaining this
baseless belief, which he shared with the intellectual elite and activists among the Zionist left.
However, Avnery’s positions have had a significant influence on genuine peace-seekers in Israel and abroad, due to his determined and persistent struggle against the ’67 occupation and the atrocities committed in the occupied territories by Israeli authorities.
Avnery’s optimistic message has relied on what he calls the “realism” of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership that ascended to power after his death; namely, their readiness for partial concessions to Israeli demands in the framework of the two-state solution which, however, don’t violate the basic national rights of the Palestinian people. Moreover, Avnery has constantly assured the public, both in Israel and abroad, that the concessions made by Abu Mazen are accepted by the majority of the Palestinians who recognize the Oslo-created Palestinian Authority as their representative. He never challenged the legitimacy of the PA leadership even after the victory of Hamas in the 2006 democratic elections, which the PA ignored and which brought about the separation from the Gaza Strip.

To read the whole article, use the link above

Gadaffi, by Carlos Latuff

Fisk on Bahrain: Al Jazeera online

Libya protests spread and intensify: Al Jazeera online

Security forces open fire on anti-government demonstrators in Tripoli, as protests escalate across the country.
21 Feb 2011

”]At least 61 people were killed in clashes in the city on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they have taken control of several important towns and the city of Benghazi, to the east of Tripoli.

A huge anti-government march in Tripoli on Monday afternoon came under attack by security forces using fighter jets and live ammunition, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

Libyan authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the report.

As violence flared, the Reuters news agency quoted William Hague, the British foreign secretary, as saying he had seen some information to suggest that Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela.

But Al Jazeera’s Dima Khatib, reporting from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, said government officials there denied that Gaddafi was on his way to the South American country.

The Libyan deputy foreign minister also denied that Gaddafi had fled the country.

With reports of large-scale military operations under way in Tripoli, a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon said the UN chief held extensive discussions with Gaddafi on Monday, condemned the escalating violence in Libya and told him that it “must stop immediately”.

” … The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population,” Ban’s spokesperson said.

For this part, several Libyan diplomats at the country’s UN mission called on Gaddafi to step down.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador, said that if Gaddafi did not relinquish power, “the Libyan people [would] get rid of him”.

“We don’t agree with anything the regime is doing … we are here to serve the Libyan people,” he told Al Jazeera.

Plea for no-fly zone

Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces.

He said the Libyan diplomats were urging the International Criminal Court, the Netherlands-based body, to investigate possible crimes against humanity in the Libyan context.

Dabbashi’s comments came just hours after Ahmed Elgazir, a human-rights researcher at the Libyan News Centre (LNC) in Geneva, Switzerland, told Al Jazeera that security forces were “massacring” protesters in Tripoli.

Elgazir said the LNC received a call for help from a woman “witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone”.

Earlier, a privately run local newspaper reported that the Libyan justice minister had resigned over the use of deadly force against protesters.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat, confirmed that the justice minister, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, had sided with the protesters.

“I was speaking to the minister of justice just a few minutes ago … he told me personally, he told me he had joined the supporters. He is trying to organise good things in all cities,” he said.

In protesters’ hands

Jibreel further said that key cities near Libya’s border with Egypt were now in the hands of protesters, which he said would enable the foreign media to enter the country.

“Gaddafi’s guards started shooting people in the second day and they shot two people only,” he said.

“We had on that day in Al Bayda city only 300 protesters. When they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral, and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the following day.

“This means that the more Gaddafi kills people, the more people go into the streets.”

In another development on Monday, two Libyan air force jets landed in Malta and their pilots asked for political asylum, according to a military source.

The pilots, who made an unauthorised landing in Malta, claimed to have defected after failing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Benghazi in Libya, Karl Stagno-Navarra, an Al Jazeera contributor, said from Valletta.

The  pilots, who claimed to be colonels in the Libyan air force, were being questioned by authorities in an attempt to verify their identities.

The two Mirage jets landed at Malta’s international airport shortly after two civilian helicopters landed carrying seven people who said they were French. Only one of the passengers had a passport.

Against this backdrop of escalating violence, Libyan state television reported that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, was forming a committee to investigate the incidents taking place in the country

Earlier in the day, Saif al-Islam warned of a civil war if anti-government protests continued to spread in the country.

Speaking on state television, he blamed thugs, foreigners and Islamists for the unrest.

He promised a conference on constitutional reforms within two days and said Libyans should “forget oil and petrol” and prepare themselves for occupation by “the West” if they failed to agree.

The younger Gaddafi contrasted the situation in Libya with revolts earlier this year in Egypt and Tunisia, where longtime rulers were forced step down or fled in the face of mass popular discontent.

Protesters in Libya have similarly called for Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow, but his son warned against this, saying “Libya is different, if there is disturbance it will split into several states”.

Following Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s speech, witnesses in Tripoli reported an escalation of violence, as supporters of his father flooded into the city’s central square and confronted anti-government protesters.

Armed men in uniform fired into the crowds, witnesses said, and continuous gunfire could be heard in the background of recorded phone calls from the capital released to journalists by Libyans living abroad.

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