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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Bashar Assad’

Why I’m Traveling to Rwanda in the Middle of My Congressional Campaign

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I always promised myself that if I ever ran for public office I would highlight anti-genocide legislation as one of the principal planks of my platform. As such, I’m traveling to Rwanda this week where I will visit the main locations of the mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus in 1994. My trip is being organized by James Smith, my old friend from the UK who runs a genocide remembrance center in Rwanda. In addition, Samantha Power, President Obama’s principal advisor on Human Rights and Multilateral Affairs and the foremost anti-genocide advocate in the world has been very helpful in introducing me to the staff of the American Embassy in Kigali with whom I will also meet. Unexpectedly, my daughter Chana, who serves in the Israel army, was also helpful when her unit hosted the Rwandan Chief of Staff and she shared with him how much her father has read and written about the genocide, leading the Chief of Staff to kindly invite me to Rwanda.

The Rwandan genocide of Tutsis by Hutus happened at a rate even quicker than the liquidation of Jews at the hands of the Germans. The best estimate is that 800,000 were killed in a hundred days, which translates to 334 murders per hour, or about six murders per minute. Most of these were low-tech executions by machete. Tens of thousands of others were horribly maimed but did not die.

And why would a would-be Congressman from New Jersey travel across the globe in the Middle of his campaign to highlight the slaughter? Because Rwanda represents one of the lowest points in American foreign policy where the mightiest, richest nation on earth did not lift a pinky to rescue almost a million of the poorest people on earth.

As Phillip Gourevitch explains in his definitive account of the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed with Our Families, President Clinton, still haunted by the murder of American soldiers in Somalia, chose to take no action in Rwanda. Worse, his administration obstructed the efforts of other nations to stop the slaughter.

On April 21, 1994, the Canadian UN commandeer in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5000 troops to bring the genocide to a rapid halt. In addition, a single bombing run against the RTLM Hutu Power radio transmitting antenna would have made it impossible for the Hutus to coordinate their genocide. But on the very same day, the Security Council, with the Clinton administration’s blessing, ordered the UN force under Dallaire reduced by ninety percent to a skeleton staff of 270 troops who would powerlessly witness the slaughter to come. This in turn was influenced by Presidential Decision Directive 25, which “amounted to a checklist of reasons to avoid American involvement in UN peacekeeping missions,” even though Dallaire did not seek American troops and the mission was not peacekeeping but genocide prevention. Indeed, Madeleine Albright, the American Ambassador to the UN, opposed leaving even this tiny UN force. She also pressured other countries “to duck, as the death toll leapt from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands… the absolute low point in her career as a stateswoman.”

In the end, eight African nations, fed up with American inaction, agreed to send in an intervention force to stop the slaughter provided that the U.S. would lend them fifty armored personal carriers. The Clinton administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor for a price of $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5 million reduction as the genocidal inferno raged. The story only gets worse from there, with the Clinton State Department refusing to label the Rwanda horrors a genocide because of the 1948 Genocide Convention that would have obligated the United States to intervene.

All this could be dismissed as something that happened 18 years ago and does not much matter now. But as we’ve learned, history is always destined to repeat itself.

Every day innocent men, women, and children die in Syria with the world scarcely giving a damn. Russia has blocked every UN effort to merely censure Bashar Assad for the slaughter, yet the United States has not even removed its Ambassador from Moscow to protest this protection of a head of state butchering his people.

IDF Spokesperson: Assad’s End a Certainty

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai referred to the Bashar Assad regime in Syria on Friday, saying that the understanding that it has “reached its end” is now permeating among Assad’s allies Iran and Hezbollah.

“Another week has almost passed, during which it has been obvious that Iran and Hezbollah are engaged in a desperate effort to help the Assad regime survive,” Brig. Gen. Mordechai wrote on his official Facebook page. He added that Assad’s allies “are beginning to understand that the end is just a matter of time and therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if they are already planning for the day after.”

Brig. Gen. Mordechai emphasized that the IDF is prepared for any scenario.

Meanwhile, a Russian military source said that Russia may send warships and troops to Syria to protect its logistics base in Tartous, Syria.

“It is quite possible that warships of the Black Sea Fleet may go to the Mediterranean Sea in case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartous, Syria, since it is within the zone of the Fleet’s responsibility,” a source in the Russian General Staff told the Itar-Tass government news agency.

“Several warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including large landing ships with marines aboard, are fully prepared to take to the sea,” the source added.

Earlier this week, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Naveh said that “the same Syrians who act like this toward their people would do the same thing to us if they had the opportunity.” Naveh added that “Syria has the largest arsenal of chemical weapons in the world, and missiles and rockets that cover all of Israel.”

Earlier this month, IDF Northern Front Commander Major General Yair Golan said that “Al-Qaida operatives who are today acting against the Syrian regime may in time operate against us.” Golan noted that “Syria has weapons of mass destruction alongside a very heavy arsenal, which includes surface-to-surface and ground-to-sea missiles, and chemical weapons. The fact that Syria is a weapons storehouse that fuels terrorist elements disturbs us greatly.”

US Senate to Consider Tougher Sanctions on Iran

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The US Senate will consider a new sanctions package against Iran on Thursday, in which oil and economic embargos will be considered in order to force Iran to abandon its nuclear development program.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will introduce the new legislation, to strength penalties signed into law by President Barack Obama in December.  The new legislation would close loopholes enabling trading with Iranian banks and oil and tanker companies which exist in the December legislation.  It will also include sanctions on companies supplying telecommunications equipment used to monitor opposition.

According to Reuters, the bill is a revised version of one passed in February by the Senate Banking Committee and has the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  That bill was brought before the Senate in March, but failed to receive a “unanimous consent” voice vote because some senators sought amdnemdnets which would sanction companies that insure trade with Iran.

On May 23, Tehran is set to resume nuclear program-related talks with representatives from the UN Security Council – US, Britain, China, France, Russia – and Germany which began on April 14.

In the meantime, Iran continues to funnel illegal weapons to Syria to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad in his crackdown on opposition in his country, according to a report on Wednesday by the Associated Press.

An anonymous UN Security Council diplomat identified at least two new illegal arms shipments to Syria, with a possible third cargo containing rockets for arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The U.N. Security Council imposed its first sanctions on Iran in December 2006.  Since then, Iran has continued to enrich uranium, despite increasing international pressure.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

According to a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, Iran has circumvented sanctions by routinely changing the names, ownership, and flags of seafaring vessels, as well as using front companies, falsifying documents, and obtaining contraband through Iranian nationals around the world, as well as utilizing money transfer businesses to keep business up to speed.

Israel and the United States have made frequent allusions to the possibility of  military response to Iran’s refusal to halt its nuclear program.  In a closed meeting on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said the United States has prepared and tested military methods to attack Iran, if it should become necessary to employ that option.

Arab League to Assad: Step Down

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The Arab League has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over power to his deputy and join a national unity government that would prepare the country for new elections and a new constitution.
Syria rejected the proposal, which an official government response called “a violation of its sovereignty and flagrant interference in its internal affairs”.
Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo issued the proposal on Sunday, also agreeing to extend by one month the mandate of their observer mission to Syria. The mission was meant to oversee implementation of a cease-fire agreement between Assad and rebels fighting government troops, but has seen an increase in violence instead.
On Monday, five government soldiers were reported killed and more than a dozen others wounded in an attack by rebels in the city of Homs. Observers said that eight civilians were killed by government troops across the country as well. The death toll in the nearly year-long pro-democracy protests against the Assad regime is estimated to be well 5,400 now, with no signs of the violence abating.
The Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo said that, if Assad does not accept their national unity government proposal, they will ask the United Nations to step in and end the crisis.

Syrian Rebels Briefly Seize Damascus Suburb

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Rebel soldiers fighting troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad briefly held part of a town outside Damascus late Saturday, making their boldest push yet in more than 10 months of protest that are growing increasingly into an armed uprising.

Witnesses said the Free Syrian Army held territory and set up roadblocks in Douma, a center of dissent, for up to several hours before retreating to their hideouts. The fighting began, they said, after government forces fired on a funeral procession for a resident who had been killed during protests.

Also on Saturday, at least 14 people were reported killed in a rebel attack on government troops in the north of the country, near the Turkish border. An army truck was struck by four bombs, then attacked by gunmen.

The fighting comes as the Arab League weighs whether to renew its observer mission, widely considered a failure because violence has only increased since it began its work a month ago. Syrian opposition groups have asked for foreign troops to be sent to the country to provide greater security for citizens. Arab League officials have said they are leaning toward authorizing a more robust team, possibly including United Nations observers and/or military advisers.

With the situation in Syria deteriorating, the United States said before the weekend that it may have to close its embassy in Damascus and remove all personnel from Syria.

UN Secretary General Pleads for Security Council Action

Monday, January 16th, 2012

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in Abu Dhabi Monday that he hopes “the UN Security Council handles Syria in a coherent manner and with a sense of gravity.”

“The casualties have reached such an unacceptable stage we cannot let the situation continue this way,” he added.

These statements come a day after he implored Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “stop the massacre of his people.”

Pressure on Syria Builds From All Sides

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Pressure on Bashar Assad’s regime continued to mount on Wednesday, a day after the Syrian president vowed to crush the popular uprising against his rule and mocked the Arab League monitors investigating his deadly response to it.

Turkish officials seized weapons from four trucks making their way from Iran to Syria, as part of international sanctions against the Assad regime brought on by the army’s bloody repression of protests across the country. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 protestors have been killed since the crisis began last March.

On Tuesday, a former member of the Arab League team of observers said in an interview that he had left the mission to oversee an Arab League-negotiated cease-fire agreement because it was a “farce,” manipulated repeatedly by the Syrian government.

The same day, in a rare public speech, Assad blamed foreign conspirators for the ongoing protests and battles with Syrian army defectors, insisting that he would crush them “with an iron hand” and “declare victory soon”.

At the same time, Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that the army was preparing for Assad’s ouster, after which Gantz said thousands of Assad’s fellow minority Allawites could try to flee to Israel.

Syrian Leader Assad Defiant in Speech to Nation

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

In a rare public address, embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad insisted he would not step down, and blamed a “foreign conspiracy” for the unrest that has resulted in the deaths of over 5,000 people since protests began last March.

In his nearly two-hour speech at Damascus University, the increasingly-islolated Assad also rejected claims that security forces have been given orders to fire on demonstrators, and castigated the Arab League for failing “to protect Arab interests.” He said that a new constitution was being drafted, and promised that it would be put to a popular referendum when it is completed.

Despite the failure of the Arab League observer mission and an upcoming UN Security Council session on the matter, Assad sounded a positive note, saying: “These past 10 months, despite all their hardships, were very beneficial … I am confident about the future.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/syrian-leader-assad-defiant-in-speech-to-nation/2012/01/10/

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