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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘opposition’

Report: Syrian Army Chemical Missile Kills 100 (Video)

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Israel’s Channel 10 News cites a report from the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad that the Syrian army has launched a surface-to-surface missile in a suburb of the capital Damascus, killing more than 100.

The reliability of the report not yet clear, according to Channel 10, and it is not known what type of chemical was used.

According to the report, the Syrian army is bombing the towns of Tamara and Zamalka, on the outskirts of Damascus. The rebels are reporting dozens of injuries. It was also reported that the army has shot down a rebel helicopter.

Several Arab news channel have carried this report. The alleged attack took place while a UN mission with some 20 inspectors is in Damascus to investigate earlier reports of chemical weapons use.

The inspectors are expecting to visit three sites, most notably Khan al-Assal near Aleppo. According to the UN, 13 reports of chemical weapon attacks have been received to date – not including today’s report.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the investigators intend to collect samples, conduct interviews with witnesses, victims, and attending medical personnel, and conduct autopsies.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, the Syrian army has attacked rebel positions in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, countering a rebel advance that threatened to take the whole city. Deir al-Zor, on the banks of the Euphrates, 270 miles northeast of Damascus, is the capital of an oil-rich region bordering Iraq.

Evidence that Morsi Actually Lost the Egyptian Presidency

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Just days after his apparent victory, Cynthia Farahat and I expressed our skepticism about the validity of these election returns:

SCAF exploits the Muslim Brotherhood and other proxies as its civilian fronts, a role they are happy to play, by permitting Islamists to garner an outsized percentage of the parliamentary vote, then to win the presidency. During the suspicious week-long delay before the presidential votes were announced, SCAF met with the Muslim Brotherhood’s real leader, Khairat El-Shater, and reached a deal whereby Morsi became president but SCAF still governs.

Earlier, we had doubted two earlier rounds of elections (see “Egypt’s Sham Election” and “Don’t Ignore Electoral Fraud in Egypt.”)

Though few analysts have embraced this version, there have been hints of it:

(1) On July 31, 2013, Josh Goodman and James Parks wrote in “Morsi Was Neither Democratically Nor Duly Elected” that

hailing Morsi as the democratically elected representative of the Egyptian people appears to be based on a rather loose understanding of “democracy.” The Brotherhood has been accused of bribing and intimidating voters and rigging ballots during the 2012 elections. The election suffered from abysmally poor voter turnout (43.4% of registered voters), which is especially troubling given the ostensibly historic nature of the race. Out of 23 million voters in the first round of elections, 12 million did not vote for either of the two candidates ultimately placed in the run-off vote. Capping this all off was a blatant power grab from the military, which changed the constitution mid-election to limit the power of the newly elected President.

(2) On Aug. 3, 2013, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave an interview in which he both denied having rigged Morsi’s election and (more interestingly) asserted that he could have done so had he wanted to.

Q: So you were giving the president advice on Ethiopia and the Sinai, for example, and he was ignoring you?

A: We were very keen and predetermined on his success. If we wanted to oppose or not allow them to come to rule Egypt, we would have done things with the elections, as elections used to be rigged in the past.

Now comes a testimonial from an un-named Egyptian official via the Israeli politician Yossi Beilin in “Morsi didn’t win the elections” that

Ahmed Shafiq, the former air force commander and former president Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, actually won the race by a narrow margin. But the army generals—wanting to ensure that law and order would be upheld following the elections—feared that if Morsi was defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood would refuse to recognize the results and would end up conducting themselves just as they are now.

The official results, 51.73 percent for Morsi and 48.27% for Shafiq, were almost the exact reversal of what actually happened at the polls. After the results were published, we barely heard any calls for protest or opposition among the secular-liberals, while on the religious side—loyal either to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi parties—voters were happy with their achievement.

Beilin goes on to explain that military officers expected the inexperienced Morsi to respect the army but he did not. Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi came under pressure from fellow generals some months ago but Sisi gave Morsi a chance to make amends.

UN Chemical Weapons Inspectors Arrive in Syria

Monday, August 19th, 2013

UN inspectors tasked with investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria arrived there on Sunday, Xinhu reported.

The 20-member UN delegation, led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, will begin their two-week mission today.

The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of using chemical weapons in an attack on Khan al-Asal town on March 19 that killed at least 25 people and injured 130 others, and both sides are denying responsibility.

The UN fact-finding mission, set up in March at the request of the Syrian government, will investigate the use of chemical weapons at the town of Khan al-Asal, outside Aleppo, and in two other sites.

The locations of two other incidents have not been publicized for security reasons. The UN investigation team’s mandate is to report on whether chemical weapons were used, and to specify what kind of chemical weapons was used. But they are not asked to determine the responsible party.

Israeli Democracy Dealt Blow with ‘Governance Act’

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last night the Knesset voted to raise the threshold vote from 2 to 4 percent. This means that a political party must win 4.8 seats before it can receive its first seat in the Knesset. It was presented by the Likud-Beiteinu faction as a necessary measure to enable Israel’s government to govern without the constant fear of being toppled by a walkout of one of its minor coalition members.

The new threshold would effectively eliminate the small parties in Israel, forcing them to align in large power blocks or disappear. Meanwhile, their votes should be siphoned off to four or five major parties.

There’s an inherent problem in Israel’s parliamentary system, which has made it difficult for coalition governments over the past 65 years: the executive, meaning the prime minister, is also a member of the legislative body. In order to stay in power, he or she must juggle the Knesset membership around to maintain a majority of at least 61 out of 120 members. If they go below 60, their government is likely to lose a vote of no confidence (of which it endures about 10 a week), and the nation must go to new elections.

Under the U.S. constitution, it is perfectly fine for the president to govern while both houses of Congress are in the hands of a party other than his own. He will serve out his term of four years (unless he is impeached), and would simply have to haggle with the opposition party to get his legislation through.

An attempt in the recent past to let the voter pick the prime minister in a separate vote ended up with a disappointment to anyone who thought they would attain executive stability this way – and the separate PM vote was scrapped. It appears that the only real solution would be for Israel to switch to a presidential system, with an executive who governs outside the Knesset.

But such a change would be rejected by the smaller parties, who get their life’s blood—i.e. patronage jobs—from their leaders’ stints as government ministers. A cabinet run by an executive who isn’t himself an MK would be staffed by technocrats rather than by politicians, and the smaller parties would be left out to dry, unable to suckle on the government’s teat.

The new “Governance Act” that was passed last night would presumably have the same effect on the smaller parties: they would become history. This means the elimination of all the parties that currently boast fewer than 5 MKs: Hadash (Arabs) has 4, Ra’am Ta’al-Mada (Arabs) has 4, National Democratic Assembly (Arabs) has 3, and Kadima has 2.

You may have noticed a recurring ethnic group among the Knesset factions which would be eliminated by the Governance Act. Those 11 “Arab” seats would be eliminated, unless, of course, these three factions, with vastly different platforms (one is Communist, the other two not at all). are able to unite around their single common denominator, namely that they’re not Jews.

The political thinker behind this power grab is MK Avigdor Liberman, who’s been dreaming about a Knesset where his faction, Likud-Beiteinu, could win a decisive majority, once and for all. His henchman, MK David Rotem, was the bill’s sponsor. But the law of unintended consequences and double-edged swords is strong in Israel, and the new bill could just as easily be just what the Left needed to stage a resounding comeback.

Labor (15 MKs) and Meretz (6 MKs) are really the old Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda and Mapam, the three Zionist workers parties. Hadash is really a remnant of Maki and Rakach, the two Communist parties which split off Mapam. If the leftist establishment got it together—as it did in 1992—it could cobble Labor, Meretz, the Arabs, Kadima and Livni to create a juggernaut of more than 35, possibly 40 seats.

This kind of unity could only be forged by a common feeling of a great betrayal by the right-wing government – and, what do you know, judging by last night’s drama over the threshold vote, such a sense of betrayal is permeating the smaller parties.

One after another, opposition MKs came up to the podium and used up their time to keep silent. MK Jamal Zahalka strapped duct tape over his mouth. MK Ahmad Tibi stood with his back to the plenum. Merets chair zehava Gal-on wept, her hands over her face.

Guardian Editorial Takes the Side of Morsi (or Mubarak?)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

To get an idea of just how outrageous a recent Guardian editorial (on Dec. 7) defending President Morsi and criticizing the liberal opposition truly was, here are two tweets by commentators with otherwise unimpeachable Guardian Left credentials:

Here’s Guardian Cairo correspondent Jack Shenker.

Let me say once again, I totally disassociate myself from this@guardian editorial on  – it’s offensive & wrong: guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/…

Here’s ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Rachel Shabi:

What is the Guardian thinking with this awful, misleading editorial on bit.ly/VDYy6T

Here are a few excerpts of the Guardian editorial in question:

[The crisis in Egypt] is not about the proposed constitution,

[The opposition is engaged in] a power battle in which the aim is to unseat a democratically elected president, and to prevent a referendum and fresh parliamentary elections being held, both of which Islamists stand a good chance of winning. Morsi, for his part, is determined that both polls be held as soon as possible to reaffirm the popular mandate which he still thinks he has.

The opposition on the other hand has never accepted the results of freely held elections, parliamentary or presidential, and is doing everything to stop new ones being held

So, the Guardian, when faced with a choice between a Muslim Brotherhood which is ideologically opposed to true democracy and individual freedoms – a political predisposition clearly on display in Morsi’s recent decision to assume dictatorial powers – and a political opposition which is at leastmarginally progressive, chose the reactionary Islamists.

The following post by a Lebanese writer, who blogs at Karl reMarks, wrote the following piece titled ‘The Guardian’s Editorial on Egypt Re-Imagined‘, which is based on the same Dec. 7 Guardian editorial re-imagined as if it were written in January 2011, with minor changes like replacing Morsi with Mubarak.

As the crisis in Egypt develops, it is becoming increasingly clear what it is not about. It is not about the elections, or the economic crisis, or Egypt’s relationship with Israel. Nor is it about the arrangements for a successor to the president. Nor even is it about the temporary but absolute powers that the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, assumed for himself – for a mere thirty years, and which will lapse the moment the Egyptian people stop making a fuss.

Urging the opposition to shun dialogue, Mohamed ElBaradei said that Mubarak had lost his legitimacy. So the target of the opposition is not the constitution, or the emergency law, but Mubarak himself. What follows is a power battle in which the aim is to unseat a democratically elected president, with 88.6% of the vote, and to prevent fresh parliamentary elections being held, both of which the ruling NDP stand a good chance of winning. Mubarak, for his part, is determined that both polls be held as soon as possible to reaffirm the popular mandate which he still thinks he has.

In weighing who occupies the moral high ground, let us start with what happened on Wednesday night. That is when the crisis, sparked by yet another Mubarak decree when he was at the height of his domestic popularity over the role he played in stopping the yet another Israeli assault on Gaza, turned violent. The NDP party sanctioned a violent assault on a peaceful encampment of opposition supporters in Tahrir Square. But lethal force came later, and the NDP was its principle victims. NDP offices were attacked up and down the country, while no other party offices were touched. This does not fit the opposition’s narrative to be the victims of state violence. Both sides are victims of violence and the real perpetrators are their common enemy.

Mubarak undoubtedly made grave mistakes. In pre-empting decisions by the courts to derail his reforms, his decrees were cast too wide. His laws have many faults, although none are set in stone. The opposition on the other hand has never accepted the results of freely held elections, parliamentary or presidential, and is doing everything to stop new ones being held.

The Guardian is not only supporting a racist, antisemitic, anti-Christian, anti-West Islamist movement, but are remaining loyal even when a more liberal alternative is possible.

Reporters Distance Themselves from UK Newspaper’s Backing of Morsi

Monday, December 10th, 2012

At least two writers for the Guardian newspaper have distanced themselves from an editorial in the Guardian in which the paper criticizes the liberal opposition to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi who seeks the ratification of a constitution protesters say does not protect individual rights from religious persecution, according to the CiFWatch organization.

In the editorial, the Guardian characterized the opposition as merely seeking power, saying the crisis was not about the constitution but a “power battle” against a “democratically elected president.”

In response, the paper’s Cairo correspondent wrote on his twitter account, I “totally disassociate myself from this @guardian editorial on #Egypt – it’s offensive & wrong.”

A contributor to the Guardian‘s “Comment is Free” opinion section, Rachel Shabi wrote “What is the Guardian thinking with this awful, misleading editorial on #egypt?”

Adam Levick, the managing editor of the CiFWatch website, wrote that, “The Guardian is not only supporting a racist, antisemitic, anti-Christian, anti-West Islamist movement, but are remaining loyal even when a more liberal alternative is possible. ”

CiFWatch monitors bias against Israel in the British publication the Guardian as well as other UK publication. It is affiliated with CAMERA. Its entries are often featured on the Jewish Press website.

Syrian Rebels Post Video of Outcome of Assad’s Chemical Weapons

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

A video uploaded to YouTube by Syrian rebels on Saturday seems to indicate that Syrian President Bashar Assad is attacking opposition forces with chemical weapons.

The video is allegedly taken in a suburb of Aleppo, where Syria’s largest stockpile of chemical weapons is believed to be stored.

Warning: Video is graphic and potentially disturbing to children

London’s Sunday Times reported that Israeli commandos have infiltrated Syria with the mission of recording information about Assad’s weapons depots and the transportation of chemical weapons to new locations.

On Wednesday, the London Times reported that the US and other allies were considering launching military reprisals on Assad’s forces in response to the chemical weapons use.

Syria is believed to hold the world’s third largest chemical weapons hoard.

Assad’s forces have killed an estimated 42,000 people in the almost two years since Syria’s Arab Spring began.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/syrian-rebels-post-video-of-outcome-of-assads-chemical-weapons/2012/12/09/

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