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3,500 Gaza patients threatened by Rafah closure: PA

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A Palestinian ambulance waits to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 20, 2015. (AFP photo)

A Palestinian ambulance waits to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 20, 2015

Palestinian officials have warned about the deteriorating health conditions of thousands of patients in the besieged Gaza Strip following Egypt’s closure of the Rafah crossing.

The spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, said that some 3,500 Palestinian patients are in dire need of medical treatment in the coastal sliver which is under Israeli siege.

Qidra warned that Palestinians were eagerly waiting for the Rafah crossing, along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, to open as they must travel to the neighboring country in order to receive much-needed treatment.

He called on the International Red Cross and human rights organizations to pressure Egypt to open the Rafah crossing and to allow patients to travel to receive medical treatment.

The crossing was last opened for four days in August. Following its closure, Palestinian border official Maher Abu Sabha expressed hope that the crossing would soon “reopen in both directions permanently.”

The Rafah crossing serves as the only gateway out of the blockaded Palestinian territory bypassing Israel, which closed all other crossings several years ago.

It has only been open for a total of two weeks since the start of the year.

Cairo tightened the restrictions on the border crossing after the Egyptian military ousted former President Mohammed Morsi in a 2013 coup.

Dozens of Palestinian patients have lost their lives due to a lack of medicine and medical supplies since Israel imposed a blockade against the impoverished Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million people, in 2007.

In August, the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, warned that some 17,000 Palestinians were in urgent need to leave the strip for medical assistance.

(Source / 25.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 25, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Posted in Zorg / Health

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By Peter Clifford                  ©       (


The scenario that many dreaded (EDITOR: Including me. Below is my best interpretation of events compiled from many conflicting reports) happened yesterday, Tuesday, with the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet.


Stricken Russian Su-24 Before it Plunges to Earth

Turkey said the Russian plane had been warned “10 times” not to invade their airspace, while Russia said their plane had been shot down over Syrian airspace.

Both statements seem to be correct.

While engaged in bombing raids (the Free Syrian Army [FSA] says the Russian plane had just bombed civilians in Jisr Al-Shughour in Idlib province) the Su-24 had passed several times over a “peninsular” along the Turkish border that sticks out into Syria.

As the Su-24 can fly as fast as 815 mph, to cross this peninsular (see map below) would take 17 seconds or less.

After warnings were ignored, the Turkish F-16 then fired an air-to-air missile, probably from Turkish airspace, which struck the Russian bomber over Syria, bringing it down on the Syrian side a few kilometres from the Syrian/Turkish frontier, HERE:

The pilot and the navigator, who sit side by side in the Su-24 cockpit, ejected from the stricken aircraft as it plunged towards the ground and as they parachuted earthwards, local Turkmen militia, who are anti-Assad and aligned to the FSA, fired upon them killing one, thought to be the navigator, HERE:

While the Turkmen produced video of the dead navigator, Lieutenant Colonel Peshkov, the whereabouts of the pilot, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, was at the time unknown.

The Russians sent 2 helicopters on a search and rescue mission over the Turkman mountains in northern Latakia province, but these in turn were fired upon by the local militia causing one of them to crash land.

The FSA 2nd Coastal Division then took out this M1-8 helicopter as it was parked on the ground after a forced landing with a (US-made) TOW anti-tank missile, HERE:

A Russian marine in the helicopter was also killed, though it is not clear whether he was shot from the ground or died when the helicopter exploded. The rest of the crew were later rescued.

The Turkmen claimed at one point that they had both the Russians from the downed Su-24, and while this may have been the case for a while, this was not verified.

Latest reports today, Wednesday, say that Russian and Syrian special forces mounted a 12 hour operation on Tuesday night that penetrated 4.5 kilometres into Opposition territory in the Turkman Mountains, rescuing the pilot, Captain Muraktin, and returning him to his base near Latakia, “safe and well”.

Speaking from Hmeymim airbase Wednesday afternoon, where his plane was based, the rescued pilot said that they had received “no warning”, though that is contradicted by Colonel Steve Warren, an American military spokesman in Baghdad, who says that recorded communication between the Turkish and Russian pilots showed that the Turks did warn the Russian plane 10 times before they shot it down.

This map shows the Turkish border (in turquoise) and the flight of the Russian Su-24 (in red), here:


Border Area Where Russian Jet Crossed into Turkey

While the whole incident had the potential to escalate completely out of hand, with Turkey calling in its NATO partners and then facing up against Russia, it is most likely to turn into a war of words, economic sanctions by Russia on Turkey and lots of military posturing.

President Obama, President Holland and Chancellor Merkel called for “restraint”, while Putin burbled on about a “stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists” and promised “serious consequences”.

Putin also claimed that their plane was attacking “Islamic State terrorists”, though there are no known IS Jihadists anywhere near Jisr Al-Shughour where the plane had recently bombed or the Turkman Mountain area.

The Russian Ministry of Defence has said that in future its bombers will be accompanied by defensive fighter jets, it will be sending its advanced S-400 air defence system to Syria to protect its airbase, and the missile cruiser “Moskva” will be deployed off the Syrian coast to “destroy any targets threatening Russian planes”.

Sergie Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, also cancelled a planned visit to Turkey’s capital, Ankara, scheduled for today, Wednesday, saying that the incident “really looks like a planned provocation” but adding, “We do not plan to go to war with Turkey, our attitude toward the Turkish people has not changed.”

Not the feelings of some Russians apparently.  Around a 1,000 attacked the Turkish embassy in Moscow today, Wednesday, smashing all the windows and generally doing their best to wreck it.  The Russian police did not intervene.

Russians have also been told to avoid visiting Turkey, one of their favourite package holiday destinations,  where they “may not be safe”.


Opposition Fighter in Northern Latakia

The Turkmen are of Turkish decent and have lived in this region since the 11th century.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, many of them have been trained and armed by Turkish special forces.

In Latakia, the Jabal al-Turkman Brigade, which was formed in 2013, comprises of 12 armed units, and its their 2nd Coastal Division, which was formed in 2015 and backed by the FSA, which is involved in the latest incident.

Assad’s and Russian planes regularly bomb the Turkmen villages and kill their civilian population, many of whom now live in tents in the mountains.

Hardly surprising then that they will fire at Russian military helicopters and Russian bomber crew, given the opportunity.

The BBC has more detail on the Turkmen Opposition.

Russia will have to retaliate somewhere and the Turkmen are now their most likely target, indeed latest reports suggest that the Russians have fired 4 cruise missiles at their northern Latakia bases this morning, Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Assad’s forces, backed by Russian air support advanced into the Latakia Turkman territory at Rashwan Hill and the villages of Katf al-Ghader, Ain Samoukh, Jib al-Ahmar and Ruwysat al-Mallouha.

Both the BBC and Al Jazeera have video summaries of all the events.

Map of Northern Latakia Showing Turkish Border


As if all the above were not enough, on Monday night it is alleged that Israel once again bombed Hezbollah and Syrian Army positions in the mountainous Qalamoun region between Damascus and Lebanon.

According to reports, after several hours of reconnaissance flights above the area the Israeli Air Force (IAF) made 2 attacks on a joint Hezbollah/Assad position in the Ras Al-Maara mountains, immediately followed by a 3rd raid on another position in the Qara mountains.

A 4th raid hit a Hezbollah position on Flita mountain. 8 Hezbollah fighters and 5 Syrian troops are said to have been killed in the attacks, as well as injuring dozens more who were rushed to Yabrud and Nabk hospitals, several of them critically injured.

Syria News

French Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle

Also on Monday, France moved its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle into combat position off the Syrian coast and launched a series of bombing raids against Islamic State positions in Tal Afar in Iraq.

The Charles de Gaulle, which is powered by 2 nuclear reactors, carries 26 attack aircraft, tripling France’s capacity to bomb IS targets in Syria and Iraq.

In Aleppo province, heavy fighting continues between the Opposition coalition and pro-Assad forces south of Aleppo. The Opposition have re-captured 10 villages this week in a counter-offensive, driving back an enemy composed mainly of Iranian militia. Latest reports say opposition fighters have captured Banes.

Footage of a successful Opposition TOW strike against a regime communications station on Tel Eis, HERE:

North of Aleppo, Opposition fighters have also struck back at regime positions in Bashkoi, reportedly destroying a total of 10 rocket launchers, tanks and armoured vehicles.


Turkish Tanks Being Brought by Train to the Syrian Border

In what may well be a retaliatory strike following yesterday’s loss of a jet bomber, Russian planes this afternoon bombed Azaz in northern Aleppo province just 4 kilometres from the border with Turkey, hitting a number of trucks, many of which are probably Turkish, HERE:

As tensions grow, there are additionally reports of an increased concentration of Turkish tanks along the Syrian/Turkish border and overflights of Turkish helicopters 3 to 4 kilometres into Rojava, Kurdish territory, north of Hasakah.

In southern Suweida province, which is predominately Druze, a resistance to compulsory conscription gathers pace.

More than ten Druze communities have refused to allow the Assad regime to compulsorily register their young men for military conscription and have said they will fight the authorities if they attempt to take the men by force.

With an increasing lack of manpower, and increasing dependence on foreign militia, the Assad regime was thought in May to have at least 70,000 young men in provinces it wholly or partially controls skipping conscription.

Lastly, there are still people in the world that care and act on the hell that is Syria, this time in the US, HERE:

Written by altahrir

November 25, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Peter Clifford

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De kinderen van Israël

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By Engelbert Luitsz          ©        (


Het Kinderrechtenverdrag van de Verenigde Naties is het meest geratificeerde verdrag van deze organisatie. Momenteel hebben alleen de Verenigde Staten het niet geratificeerd, maar dat heeft vooral te maken met het feit dat alle staten daar tot overeenstemming moeten komen. Nederlandstalige informatie loopt nog wel eens een beetje achter, maar ondertussen hebben ook Somalië en Zuid-Soedan zich aangeslotenbij de internationale consensus, waarmee het aantal landen op 196 is gekomen.

Momenteel wordt er opnieuw veel gesproken over de situatie van kinderen in verband met de vluchtelingenstroom uit Syrië. Zoals altijd botst het dan tussen technocraten die kinderrechten ondergeschikt maken aan het eigen programma en mensen die de rechten van het kind onvoorwaardelijk voorop stellen. Jan Bouke Wijbrandi, directeur van Unicef Nederland, stelde het in een dialoog met staatssecretaris Van Rijn heel duidelijk: “Alsjeblieft, houd je aan het uitgangspunt dat een kind op de eerste plaats kind is en pas daarna vluchteling.” Ook na het trauma van een oorlog en het vluchten is de situatie in een adoptieland verre van ideaal. Over het verhuizen van noodopvang naar noodopvang zegt Wijbrandi: “Weet u wel hoe slecht dat is voor een getraumatiseerd kind?” Waarop Van Rijn niets beters weet te verzinnen dan: “Maar ze verhuizen wel in een veilig land.” (1)

Conflictgebieden geven duidelijk aan hoe belangrijk de rampzalige situatie ook voor de toekomst is. Onderwijs – een recht volgens het Kinderverdrag – is een direct slachtoffer van geweld en de gedwongen verplaatsing van enorme groepen mensen. Ontwikkelingswerker Rabi Bana schetst de situatie voor Syrische kinderen:

In Syrië zijn gezondheidszorg en onderwijs gratis voor iedereen. De geletterdheid van de Syriërs is een van de hoogste van het Midden-Oosten. Maar dat gaat nu verloren. Vijftigduizend leraren zijn gevlucht. Een op de vier scholen ligt in puin. En de buurlanden hebben geen capaciteit. Als we niet oppassen mist een hele generatie Syriërs elementair onderwijs.

Het is geen geheim dat onderwijs ook opvoeding is, het is geen kennis die in isolement wordt opgedaan. Onderwijs heeft een belangrijke sociale functie en geeft kinderen hoop op een toekomst die ze in ieder geval ten dele zelf vorm kunnen geven. Tineke Ceelen van Stichting Vluchteling merkt dan ook op: “Jongens die geen scholing en perspectief hebben, kiezen eerder voor actie.” (2)

Is het toeval dat die hoge graad van scholing ook in bepaalde andere landen op zo’n hoog peil stond en nu is verdwenen? In Irak, in Libië, in Palestina? Aangezien de discussie over jongeren die gedesillusioneerd zijn ook steeds terugkomt bij aanslagen in Europa, of bij het Palestijnse verzet van kinderen in de Gazastrook en op de Westelijke Jordaanoever, zou je bijna gaan denken dat het met opzet gebeurt. Zo moeilijk is het niet kinderen de hoop op een betere toekomst af te nemen. Elke psycholoog kan je vervolgens vertellen dat een deel van hen zal “radicaliseren” zoals dat tegenwoordig moet heten.

Iemand die veel onderzoek heeft gedaan naar hoe jongeren zich gedragen is de psychologe Eveline Crone. In haar populair-wetenschappelijke boek Het puberende brein schrijft ze “dat de meeste probleemoplossingsfuncties zich ontwikkelen tussen vier en twaalf jaar (de periode dat kinderen op de basisschool zitten)” (3, p. 51). Dat is dus een zeer kwetsbare periode en als die kinderen onthouden wordt is de kans op onaangepast gedrag sterk aanwezig. Een centraal thema in het boek van Crone is het feit dat het deel van onze hersenen waarmee we daadwerkelijk de consequenties van onze daden kunnen invoelen pas heel laat volledig tot ontwikkeling komt.

Pas bij zestienjarigen werd de eerste indicatie gevonden van een waarschuwingssignaal voorafgaand aan een gevaarlijke keuze, hoewel bij deze leeftijdsgroep dit waarschuwingssignaal nog niet zo sterk aanwezig was als bij twintig- tot vijfentwintigjarigen. (3, p. 104)


Israël heeft het Kinderrechtenverdrag uit 1989 al in 1991 geratificeerd. Welke kinderen hadden ze in gedachten denk je dan? Joodse misschien? Ik moest daar vanmorgen aan denken toen de filosoof Hans Achterhuis aanschoof bij Wim Brands. In het programma Boeken werd Erfenis zonder testament besproken, een boek over de tien geboden dat hij samen met collega-filosoof Maarten van Buuren schreef. De absurditeit van de Bijbel als moreel richtsnoer kan bijna niet beter aangetoond worden dan door Mozes die met de tien geboden terugkeert en vervolgens 3000 onschuldige mensen vermoordt, omdat ze het gouden kalf hadden aanbeden. Een van die tien geboden was: Gij zult niet doodslaan.

Zo lijkt men in Israël ook om te gaan met die paar verdragen die ze in theorie wel zouden moeten respecteren. Zowel in de Gazastrook als op de Westelijke Jordaanoever, zowel bij de bedoeïenen als bij de Palestijnen in Israël wordt het onderwijs moeilijk tot onmogelijk gemaakt. En ook al doet men er alles aan om toch de leergierigheid te bevredigen en de kans op een beter leven te vergroten, het lukt slechts een klein deel de school af te maken (als die er nog staat). Het wordt nog moeilijker als men verder wil studeren, want de blokkade van de Gazastrook betekent ook dat bijna niemand toestemming krijgt om in het buitenland te studeren.

In de Gazastrook is het de fysieke vernietiging van de infrastructuur, van de scholen zelf, van het elektriciteitsnetwerk, van de invoerbeperkingen, alsmede de dagelijkse terreur van invallen, raketaanvallen en drones die overvliegen, die het naar onze Nederlandse maatstaven onmogelijk maken je te concentreren op een studie (hier kan ik de politie bellen als de muziek bij de buren te hard staat, daar heb je te maken met F16′s die laag overvliegen). Op de Westelijke Jordaanoever zijn talloze internationale hulpverleners en christelijke organisaties actief om kinderen naar en van school te begeleiden, om ze te beschermen tegen het geweld van soldaten en kolonisten. En dan is er nog de muur die een groot obstakel vormt.

Dit komt uiteraard bovenop de al vaak aangehaalde zaken als het arresteren van zeer jonge kinderen, de absurd hoge straffen die uitgedeeld worden en met name de afgelopen weken het vermoorden van kinderen en jongeren. Elke arrestatie, elke marteling van een kind en elke moord op een kind is een collectieve straf waarmee hele families worden gestraft, alleen omdat ze Palestijnen zijn.

Hoe is het mogelijk dat die andere 195 landen niet massaal in opstand komen tegen een regime dat generaties kinderen al decennia lang als beesten behandelt op basis van racistische criteria?


Is het in het land van de onderdrukkende en bezettende macht beter gesteld of is het racisme daar ook aantoonbaar aanwezig? Natuurlijk, racisme is nooit gericht tegen een enkele groep. Het is een mentaliteit die zich op allerlei manieren uit. Kort na de Tweede Wereldoorlog was er de beruchte “ringworm-affaire“. Zeer actueel, want de achtergrond was toen ook massa-immigratie. Immigratie van joden weliswaar, maar niet van Europese joden (Asjkenazim). Het waren joden uit Arabische landen die in Israël gezien werden als een bedreiging voor de blanke hegemonie (ziektes, besmetting, waar kennen we dat van…). De joodse eugeneticus Chaim Sheba gebruikte tienduizenden kinderen, joodse en Palestijnse, om testen te doen met extreem hoge doses straling. Velen stierven aan de gevolgen daarvan en talloze anderen hielden er blijvend letsel aan over. Nog los van het trauma dat ze als proefdieren waren gebruikt door iemand die niet onderdeed voor de symbolen van het kwaad waarvoor zoveel joden uit Europa waren gevlucht.

Deze meneer Sheba werd in Israël echter niet uit de geschiedenis verwijderd. Er werd veel later een documentaire over deze zaak gemaakt en de journalist Jonathan Cook merkte daarin twee omissies op. Er werd verzwegen dat er ook Palestijnse kinderen bij de experimenten waren gebruikt, en

het andere is dat dr. Sheba tot op de dag van vandaag wordt geëerd in Israël. Een van ‘s lands grootste ziekenhuizen, het Chaim Sheba Medical Centre, is naar hem vernoemd. (4)

Een andere pijnlijke geschiedenis werd gisteren door Marianne Azizi beschreven: een rechtszaak tegen Israëlische rechters, een Israëlische minister en Amerikaanse organisaties die betrokken zijn bij kinderhandel in Israël.

Duizenden kinderen in Israël worden bij hun ouders weggehaald op basis van flinterdun bewijsmateriaal en in instituten geplaatst. Daar worden ze onderworpen aan onderzoeken, medicatie, psychiatrische testen en worden ze vaak seksueel misbruikt, waarmee de kans dat ze weer kunnen terugkeren naar hun families heel klein wordt. (5)

De personen en organisaties die beschuldigd worden van betrokkenheid zijn zo machtig dat het maar zeer de vraag is of hier veel aandacht voor zal komen in de reguliere media. Het is in ieder geval weer een item voor het “anti-zionismedossier”. Het komt op de stapel van de rapporten over de situatie van kinderen in Israëlische gevangenissen, van de oorlogsmisdaden, de executies, de collectieve straffen, de behandeling van asielzoekers, de bloeddiamanten- en wapenhandel en van de vrouwenhandel en de prostitutie, onder andere beschreven door de bijzondere Israëlische schrijfster Ilana Hammerman in haar boek In Foreign Parts: Trafficking Women in Israel.

Een land dat een ander volk zo behandelt kan ook binnen de eigen grenzen (als die bestonden) niet fatsoenlijk zijn. Het ontmenselijken van de ander begint met het ontmenselijken van jezelf, en dat zien we terug in de Israëlische maatschappij.


Wat al die verhalen over kinderen en jongeren gemeen hebben, en waarom er zoiets bestaat als een Kinderrechtenverdrag, is dat zij de toekomst zijn. Een land dat de eigen toekomst ondermijnt door bepaalde groepen te discrimineren en andere op te voeden met haat, een land dat een ander volk onderdrukt en miljoenen kinderen heeft vernederd en gekwetst, moet ooit eens tot de orde worden geroepen. Zoals we dagelijks zien worden de daders steeds wreder, met als voorspelbaar gevolg dat ook de slachtoffers het niet meer lijdzaam over zich heen zullen laten gaan. Er komt een moment dat de coping mechanisms zoals psychologen ze noemen niet langer zullen voldoen. Dat moeten we koste wat kost zien te voorkomen, want hoe gruwelijk het nu ook is, het kan nog erger.

Written by altahrir

November 22, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Posted in Engelbert Luitsz

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‘War on terror’ made us unsafe

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By Jamal Kanj

On a Thursday night, terrorists blew themselves up in the streets of Beirut. The next day, co-ordinated terrorist attacks in des rues of Paris. The same perpetrators targeted Muslims and Christians in the two different capitals.

Just a month ago, it was a moving scene watching European women and men holding signs welcoming refugees arriving at train stations. Thus, the horrific attacks would become even more appalling if there was any truth to the news these terrorists might have hid among refugees to reach France. Especially since refugees found better reception in Europe than anywhere else, including many of the Arab and Muslim countries. And for these terrorists to exploit that hospitality is neither Arab nor a Muslim value.

There could be no rationalisation to the terrorist attacks in Paris or the atrocious murders in Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus or Nigeria. Putting aside our virtuous indignation, however, we mustn’t forget the so-called Islamic State (IS) was the illegitimate child of George Bush’s “birth bangs of democracy.” The misguided US-led Western interventionist policies created the environment that gave birth to the refugees and terrorists.

A programme was designed for Israel by Zioncons’ appointees in the dens of the US State Department and the Pentagon.

Lasting conflicts and fragmentations of the Arab world were envisioned more than 30 years ago by former Israeli foreign ministry official Oded Yinon. In a 1982 treatise in Kivunim (Directions), the official journal of the World Zionist Organisation, Yinon argued that the future priorities for the “Jewish State” (JS) are “The dissolution of Syria and Iraq … into ethnically or religiously unique areas.” Almost 30 years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett proposed the same for Lebanon.

IS and JS have a shared strategy: A perpetual conflict between Islam and the West is critical for their respective survival.  

IS gets its oxygen from US and Western powers’ unchecked diplomatic and financial support for JS. IS ideology flourishes on Western pandering to JS as an exceptionalist state beyond reproach, defying UN resolutions with complete impunity. Following Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington, Israel is in line to be rewarded, again, for its intransigence and attempts to derail the nuclear deal between the West and Iran.

Israeli planned and Western executed “dissolution of Syria and Iraq,” Lebanon, Yemen and Libya into ethnic or religious entities have become fertile grounds for dissention. Offering Islamist’s demagogues the perfect recipe to manipulate feeble minded individuals to rally around “IS” believing they were avenging their religion.

Alas, all of this was already predictable; a known consequence and anticipated outcome by US intelligence agencies.

In August 2002, CIA analysts authored a study ‘The Perfect Storm: Planning for the Negative Consequences of Invading Iraq.’ It predicted the breakup of Iraq, regional instability, and surge of global terrorism.

In a pre-war briefing, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was presented with two intelligence assessments warning that the Iraq invasion would lead to anarchy and rise of terrorism. In January 2003 the National Intelligence Council think-tank issued an assessment forecasting that “many angry young recruits” would fuel the rank of Islamic extremists.

Despite the red flags, the Bush administration opted to heed the advice of Israeli advocates. Ideologues who were trained at the offices of America Israel Public Affairs Committee and Israeli think-tanks in Washington. After election, large donors from the winning party recommend them to occupy policy making positions in the Pentagon and the State Department.

The Zioncons redirected the war compass from Al Qaeda to fight Israel’s wars. According to a Bush administration insider’s book during a policy discussion, Israeli firster Paul Wolfowitz advocated, “We don’t have to deal with Al Qaeda … We have to talk about” Iraq.

Just one day before the Iraq invasion, US Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a speech, which was likely prepared, or at least proofed by Zioncon and Chief of Staff Scooter Libby where Cheney foolishly claimed “we will … be greeted as liberators” in Iraq.

Today it’s not enough to mourn Paris or Beirut’s victims. We must also remember the estimated 1.3 million people who were banished directly and indirectly by the deviated “war on terrorism.” For the Zioncons’ conceived war has offered more than 1.3m reasons to recruit terrorists.

* Mr Kanj ( writes regualr newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Written by altahrir

November 22, 2015 at 8:29 pm

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By Peter Clifford               ©              (


The Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) have continued their advance and are currently involved in heavy fighting to take the IS-held former Assad Base 121 south of Hasakah.

IS Truck Bomb Contained 20 Barrels of Explosive

IS Truck Bomb Contained 20 Barrels of Explosive

Dozens of bodies are reported across the battlefield and experienced Kurdish YPG snipers are hunting down the remaining IS Jihadists. Plans are already in hand to take the next IS stronghold at Shaddadi, which will clear the road towards Raqqah.

Pictures have emerged of an IS armour plated truck to be used as a massive suicide bomb against SDF forces near Al-Hawl. The truck was captured before it could be detonated but estimates of the explosives on board put them at the equivalent of 10 tons of TNT.

Hussein Kocher, a leading Kurdish commander SDF, has been quoted as saying their forces are determined to “liberate the whole Syrian soil from Deash (ISIS) terrorists” and that Opposition groups should link together to carry this out.

Macer Gifford, the English City Finance worker who gave up his job to fight with the YPG has recently been interviewed by CBS in the US. He says that there are now more men from the USA and Europe who are keen to fight IS in Syria and Iraq, especially since the attacks in Paris.

You can watch a video interview and read more at CBS.

In the western part of Kobane Canton, IS once again fired mortars from their positions across the other side of the Euphrates River, hitting the Kurdish village of Bouraz. A father and his daughter were reported killed and the mother seriously injured.

35 kilometres east of Kobane city, the Turkish Army, for reasons best known to themselves, again attacked YPG positions near the village of Sibiqran with heavy weapons from across the Turkish border. No casualties were immediately reported.

South-east of Rojava at Raqqah, the outskirts of the city were hit by 3 Russian cruise missiles.

US Central Command (Centcom) reports 13 airstrikes on Syria on Wednesday, 4 of them hitting Raqqah where they struck 3 x IS HQ buildings and a bivouac. 3 strikes hit IS positions near Al-Hawl, 4 near Hasakah and 2 more struck oil and gas separation plants at Abu Kamal.

Coalition airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq are co-ordinated in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Careful checks are made to avoid hitting their own forces and civilians. You can read more, HERE:

In Sinjar in Iraq, recently recaptured by Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga have found an elaborate system of underground tunnels which IS used to try and avoid being hit by Coalition airstrikes. The Wall Street Journal has a series of pictures.

Sinjar is essentially a Yezidi city but many Yezidi are reluctant as yet to return, especially as IS is only a few kilometres away and the city is still within mortar range. Those that have come back have found there houses destroyed and belongings looted. You can read more in Al Jazeera.


Kurdish Troops Enter Destroyed Sinjar, Iraq


A proposed initial 15 day ceasefire between Assad’s forces and Opposition fighters in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, organised by the Russians appears to have come to nothing after the regime pounded the district of Douma with 12 airstrikes on Thursday, killing the city’s only remaining coroner. The 15 day ceasefire was meant to lead to a possible truce.

In IS-held Manbij in Aleppo province, where locals have been demonstrating against the presence of the Islamic State, more trouble brewed when a young man killed an IS Sharia “judge” of Tunisian origin and 2 of his guards, before killing himself.

The “judge” had had 3 members of the young man’s family beheaded, including a brother. Since then IS has increased security, setting up checkpoints throughout the town and imposing a curfew. Several residents taking part in anti-IS demonstrations have been shot and others arrested.

Interesting article in The Daily Beast with the confessions of an IS spy who has now defected.

According to Opposition sources a Russian cruise missile hit the Hayyan industrial area north-west of Aleppo city this morning, casualties unknown.

There are also reports today of a clash between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and IS in Aleppo province near the Turkish border, due north of Aleppo city and north-east of Azaz. Perhaps the start of a new campaign to oust IS from this northern part of Aleppo province against the Turkish frontier.

Turkey has once again been talking to the US about some sort of protected zone along this part of the Syrian/Turkey border. You can read more, HERE:


A 1917 Case of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the Middle East

From Homs near IS-held Palmyra come reports that there is a severe outbreak of leishmaniasis among dozens of Assad’s troops facing up to IS in the desert area. Leishmaniasis is spread by a parasite carried by sand fleas who distribute it with their bite.

Around 2 million people a year worldwide are infected. It has several forms, initially causing skin sores but can also infect the intestines and internal organs. Between 20,000 – 50,000 people die from it each year.

Assad’s soldiers have been pleading for appropriate medical treatment or to be transferred to somewhere where they can receive treatment. At the moment, according to reports, they are corralled together in the desert so as not to infect other military units.

As seen in the photograph from World War l, the disease was known as “Jericho Buttons” by soldiers affected by it around the city of Jericho.  You can read more, HERE:

In Daraa province on Thursday the Assad regime bombed an olive oil plant in Sheikh Miskin where local people were processing their harvest. At least 25 people were killed, including children and many others injured.

In Latakia province there are reports that Assad is targeting Turkman villages near the border city of Kasab with the help of Russian airstrikes. Turkey has summoned the Russian ambassador to Ankara to protest against attacks on what it sees as its fellow countrymen.

According to Israeli Intelligence around 55 Iranian military personnel have been killed in recent fighting in Syria, while Hezbollah has lost between 1,000 and 2,000 men over the last two years.

Syria NEWS

Iranian F-14 Tomcats

Interestingly, The Aviationistmagazine, after analysing video released by the Russian Ministry of Defence, has spotted that ancient Iranian F-14 Tomcat jets were seen escorting a Russian TU-95 bomber over Syria while it was making a strike.

This is the first time the Iranian Air Force (apart from cargo planes) has been seen in action over Syria.

Russia fired a whole new series of cruise missiles yesterday, Thursday, and this morning, Friday, both from long range bombers and ships.

Some landed randomly but others were targeted at Syrian Opposition groups and the Islamic State.

One cruise missile even managed to hit the regime-held village of Khattab in northern Hama.

Others fell on Ariha, Abu Al-Dhuhur, Hish, Basanqul, Mount Zawiya and Joseph in Idlib province, 200 kilometres away from IS-held territory.

One missile hitting Mir’ian village in the province killed 2 children and their mother.

Deir Ez-Zour has also been hit by 50 airstrikes in the last 24 hours, though it is not clear if they are from the Assad regime, the Russians or a combination of both.

Written by altahrir

November 21, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Posted in Peter Clifford

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Closure of Rafah crossing deprives 30% of patients from medicines

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Rafah crossing

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza Strip said the continued closure of the Rafah crossing is very dangerous for thousands of patients in the enclave.

Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said yesterday that the closure of the Rafah border crossing deprived 30 per cent of the enclave’s patients from receiving the medicines and medical supplies they need which used to enter before the Egyptian military coup in mid-2013.

The health sector in the Gaza Strip suffers from a severe shortage of medicines and medical supplies as well as an increasing number of patients who need to travel abroad for treatment, as a result of the continued closure of the border crossing.

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 18, 2015 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized, Zorg / Health

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Is Erdogan a great leader?

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By Jamal Kanj

It is high time for Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step aside if Turkey is to continue progressing democratically, and flourish economically. Great leaders know when and where to pass their torch.

Regardless of whether one believes Erdogan is an authoritarian or an egalitarian leader, it can’t be disputed that Turkey before him is not the same country after 13 years under his reign. While it is still to be seen, Erdogan’s legacy might equal or even surpass that of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk.  

For more than 50 years, Turkish democracy was frequently interrupted by military coups. Even when not in direct control, the military played a central role in governing Turkey. Since the demise of Ataturk, the military has appointed itself as the custodian of the secular constitution changing governments at their whim. One of Erdogan’s major achievements – overlooked by his critics – is his success in removing the shadow of the military out of Turkey’s political process.

For hundreds of years, Turkey and Europe had enjoyed a love-hate relationship. Ever since the aging Ottoman Empire, successive Turkish leaders sought to integrate their country into the European continent. In recent history, the European Union (EU) has tantalised the allure of membership to succeeding Turkish governments, but never good enough to join.

Unlike other Turkish leaders, and without abandoning that goal, Erdogan didn’t place “all of his eggs” in the European basket. Under his leadership, Turkey had finally overcome its religious and cultural identity crises and turned eastward to expand its economic power and leadership.

In his first challenge as the mayor of Istanbul in 1994, Erdogan surprised more than 74 per cent of the electorate, who voted for other candidates. He approached his job as a pragmatic politician rather than a religious ideologue. He rolled his sleeves not just for ablution, but to deal with his city’s chronic problems. Despite his profound religious background, Erdogan realised something most religious parties fail to understand: The running of government requires much more than relying on supernatural power.

He tackled Istanbul’s water shortage, traffic chaos, air pollution, garbage and entrenched civil service corruption. He invested in building pipelines, bridges, trash recycling facilities and instituted financial accountability in managing municipal funds. He spent over $4 billion on improving the city’s infrastructure and paid off most of Istanbul’s municipality debt.

Climbing the ladder to national leadership in 2002, Turkey owed $23.5bn to the International Monetary Funds (IMF). After a little more than a decade under his leadership, Turkey was declared debt free by the IMF.

In the years under the Justice and Development party, Turkish public debt as a percentage of annual GDP was reduced by more than 40pc. In fact, Turkey today has a better ratio of public debt to GDP and lower budget deficit to GDP ratio than the vast majority of EU members.

In the last 13 years, minimum wage in Turkey has grown by almost 300pc with another 30pc increase planned for next January. The increase in minimum wage didn’t cripple Turkey’s competitiveness, but to the contrary it was credited in part for 64pc growth in real GDP and a 43pc increase in GDP per capita. 

Unlike what typically takes place in the West during tough economic times, where governments resort to austerity measures by reducing public services, Erdogan’s government doubled the number of free universities and offered healthcare to all.

Debunking the perceived image of Islam, in 2003 the Turkish government joined with Unicef in a campaign called “Come on girls, let’s go to school.” The objective was to close the gender-gap in education between boys and girls. 

Why should he step aside then?

Erdogan has a fatal human weakness. Much like Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia, he has a gargantuan ego. While that could be the driver behind his success, however, leaders must also realise that greatness of country overarches all egos.

The coming years will tell which is far more important for Erdogan; his eternal legacy or temporal greatness disposed to slide into dictatorship. History has plenty of examples.

* Mr Kanj ( writes regualr newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Written by altahrir

November 15, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Jamal Kanj

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