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HNC Reiterates Commitment to Political Solution without Assad

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The opposition’s High Negotiations Committee renewed commitment to a political process and a political solution excluding Bashar al-Assad who will have no role once the transitional governing body is formed. The HNC pointed out that negotiations in Geneva stopped because of the regime’s insistence on pursuing a military solution in Syria.

The HNC made its remarks at the end of a three-day meeting that concluded in the Saudi capital Riyadh late on Sunday. The meeting discussed the latest regional and international developments and the work of select committees formed during the Riyadh meeting; most notably a committee tasked with holding dialogue and reaching out to different components of the Syrian society including political groups and civil society organizations.

According to a statement issued by the HNC on Sunday, HNC members discussed a draft document outlining its vision on the political process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 212. The HNC pointed out that it will continue to hold dialogue with all components and forces of the Syrian society to ensure wider participation in the development of the opposition’s political vision.

The HNC said that its latest meeting reflected the cohesion and unity among its components as well as the diversity of the Syrian society. The HNC said inclusive representation of the forces of the revolution and national opposition reflected positively on the performance and decision-making process within the HNC.

The HNC reaffirmed commitment to the political process and to the Riyadh statement as a basic document outlining the visions of all the forces of the revolution and the opposition. It noted that negotiations in Geneva were suspended due to the insistence of the Assad regime on pursuing a military solution as well as its rejection of a political solution outlined in the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the relevant international resolutions.

The HNC also said that some of its representatives are still participating in “technical discussions” in Geneva out of its commitment to the political process. It stressed that the success of negotiations requires respecting international resolutions, especially the humanitarian aspects set out in them.

The HNC condemned Russia’s targeting of the Free Syrian Army and its active participation in the regime’s hostilities against the Syrian people under the pretext of fighting terrorism. It added that the majority of Russia’s operations in Syria target civilians and civilian objects.

The HNC called for transparency and credibility with regards to the US-Russian agreements on Syria, describing them as vague. It warned that Russia might exploit these agreements to escalate crimes against the Syrian people.

The HNC reiterated rejection of any extremist groups in Syria, warning that launching a random war on these groups poses serious risks to the safety of the civilian population. Instead, the HNC called for stepping up support for the FSA groups as they defend the Syrian people against the Assad regime and its allies as well as terrorist groups.

The HNC said it stands in solidarity with the Turkish people and their elected government in the face of the recent failed coup. It also stressed it is keen to cooperate with the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura towards the success of the political process.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 18.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 18, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Watchdogs: US aid to Syria at high risk for fraud

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Women walk past damaged buildings along a street in the rebel-held town of Dael, in Deraa Governorate, Syria, July 7, 2016

The Obama administration has launched 25 investigations into alleged abuse of US assistance to Syria amid concerns that partners on the ground aren’t doing enough to prevent fraud, government watchdogs told Congress.

While the United States has provided more than $5 billion in humanitarian aid to date, it relies on third parties to distribute it inside the war-torn country. In a July 14 report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office said that many of those partners adequately plan for security hazards but not for the risk of fraud.

“Despite our goodwill, bad characters have taken advantage of the complex situation for personal gain, ultimately denying Syrian people the food, clothing, health care and other aid they urgently need,” US Agency for International Development (USAID) Inspector General Ann Calvaresi Barr said at a July 14 hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East panel.

Barr said the agency has received 116 complaints of alleged abuse and opened 25 investigations. About two-thirds were related to theft and fraud schemes, including collusion, product substitution and false claims, rather than terrorist diversions.

“For example, vendors paid bribes or kickbacks to implementer staff in exchange for competitive bidding data,” Barr said. In one case, she said, a Turkish vendor put more salt and fewer lentils in food kits to increase profits; in another, investigators found a warehouse in Syria contained useless frying pans and tiny tarps too small for an adult to fit under.

To minimize such risks, the GAO report said, USAID and the State Department should require their partners to conduct assessments of fraud risk and ensure that USAID field monitors are trained to identify potential fraud risks and collect information on them.

“Absent assessments of fraud risk, implementing partners may not have all the information needed to design appropriate controls to mitigate such risks,” GAO International Affairs and Trade Director Thomas Melito said at the hearing. “In addition, State and USAID officials may not have sufficient awareness of the risk of threat or loss due to theft.”

With US assistance only reaching about 4 million of the 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, Melito said, any instance of fraud “is literally taking food out of the mouths of babies.”

Panel chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and top Democrat Ted Deutch from Florida, requested the report.

“With no end in sight to the Syrian conflict,” Ros-Lehtinen said, “it is absolutely vital that we ensure that the taxpayer dollars that are used in support of these efforts are being used efficiently and effectively.”

The GAO said some level of wasted aid is inevitable given the difficult circumstances.

“Effective delivery of US humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria is complicated by three related factors — a dangerous operating environment, access issues and remote management of programs,” the report states. “These factors can hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance and, because US agency officials must manage programs from outside of Syria, create challenges for financial oversight, such as increasing the opportunity for fraud and diversion.”

The GAO said USAID and the State Department have agreed to its recommendations, but Melito said more could be done. Asked to provide an estimate of the amount of Syrian assistance lost to fraud and how much of it is acceptable, he said the two agencies simply don’t know.

“I don’t think they’ve done the work to address that, nor have they thought about what is their risk tolerance,” he testified. “That’s a dialogue that they need to have going forward.”

(Source / 17.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 17, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Syrian Opposition Vows to Break Aleppo’s Siege

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Syrian Opposition

A man walks with the aid of a crutch past damaged buildings in the old city of Aleppo June 27, 2015

Beirut – Syrian regime and allies took advantage of incidents in Turkey and launched series of airstrikes on opposition-controlled areas to the west of Aleppo. They targeted medical centers including Omar bin Abdul Aziz Hospital which is now out of service.

This came hours after the Washington-Moscow agreement to some serious procedure to try and save the cease-fire in Syria. Meanwhile, Syrian Opposition vowed to launch its “Aleppo Battle” soon to break its siege.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) declared that, “Eleven civilians, including four children, were killed by air raids after midnight in the Bab al-Nasr area of Old Aleppo, and seven others were killed in Fardous neighborhood.”

Military source at the Syrian Opposition said that the rebels are trying to exert all needed pressure to break Aleppo’s siege. The source told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that during the last few hours, opposition fighters were able able to target regime sites in the municipal building and Aleppo citadel, killing and injuring a number of them.

The military source also revealed that revolutionary factions, including Fatah army, are preparing for the big Aleppo battle to liberate it. He added that there are over 25 fronts in Aleppo and the rebels can succeed in penetrating one of them and breaking the siege.

Meanwhile, Agence France Press (AFP) published a report during which it said that eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo are under constant raids.

AFP correspondent reported that Omar bin Abdul Aziz hospital in the Maadi neighborhood was hit in the bombing, wounding some of the staff and patients inside. The hospital was also targeted with barrels forcing the administration to shut down.

Activist Abdul Qader Allaf pointed out that the hospital is now completely out of service. He mentioned that this the fourth time in two years that the regime targets the hospital.

Allaf told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the regime took advantage of the incidents in Turkey and diversion of the failed coup and intensified its air raids on opposition areas in Aleppo.

He explained that this bombarding is aggravating the sufferings of the besieged people because, and according to Allaf’s information, the food supplies can barely last for a month.

AFP added that opposition responded to the attack by bombing the western neighborhood under regime control.

The latest field developments came after a lengthy 12-hours talks between U.S. State Secretary John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov in Moscow. They had reached a common understanding on the steps now needed to get Syria’s peace process back on track.

It is worth mentioning that since 2012, regime and opposition had divided control over Aleppo’s neighborhoods, second largest city in Syria. Over 200 thousand citizens have been under siege in the eastern neighborhoods since last week after Syrian regime was able to gain control over Castello Road.

As for Aleppo countryside, and Menbij front specifically, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were able to control the national hospital in Menbij city under ISIS control.

Syrian News Desk reported fighter of SDF Ahmad Ibrahim saying that the forces have gained full control over the hospital and a number of surrounding buildings following fierce clashes with ISIS fighters.

Ibrahim confirmed that the clashes led to the death and injury of over 40 ISIS fighter, while eight members of SDF were killed and 19 others injured. He added that forces are now on the outskirts of al-Rabta streets in Menbij west neighborhoods.

(Source / 17.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Freedom For Saif al-Islam Gaddafi! Freedom For Libya!

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In a convoluted political picture, one must see beyond simply “good guys” and “bad guys,” and instead understand that while there are indeed good guys and bad guys, some of the good guys are sometimes bad, while some of the bad guys are sometimes good.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, speaks to the media at a press conference in a hotel in Tripoli, Libya.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, speaks to the media at a press conference in a hotel in Tripoli, Libya

The news that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the assassinated leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Muammar Gaddafi, has been released from captivity is one of the most significant developments in Libya in some time. For while the Western corporate media would like people to believe that the Gaddafi name is dead and buried, the fact remains that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and the surviving members of the Gaddafi family, are seen as heroes by many in Libya. Moreover, Saif’s release has the potential to transform the political situation in the country.

Although details are few and far between, what we do know is that according to his lawyer at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Saif Gaddafi “was given his liberty on April 12, 2016.” Indeed official documents (which remain unverified) seem to support the assertion that Saif has, in fact, been released. Considering the statements from his attorneys that Saif is “well and safe and in Libya,” the political ramifications of this development should not be underestimated. Not only is Saif Gaddafi the second eldest and most prominent of Col. Gaddafi’s sons, he is also the one seen as the inheritor of his father’s legacy of independent peaceful development and the maintenance of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

This last point is of critical importance as his release is a clear signal to many Libyans that the resistance to the NATO-imposed chaos and war is alive and well. And while there have been isolated upsurges of pro-Gaddafi sentiments at various times in the last five years, they mostly remained underground. Perhaps it might soon be time for the resistance to once again become united as it moves to drive out the terrorists and opportunists who have torn the jewel of Africa apart these last five years.

Libya: Chaos Reigns Thanks to NATO

In order to answer the question of what Saif Gaddafi’s return to political life would mean for Libya, one has to first understand the nature of the Libyan state (if one can even call it that) today. Libya has become a fractured nation made up of at least two governments – one aligned with Al Qaeda in Tripoli, the other moderate, non-Islamist government based in Tobruk – with the vast majority of the tribes having at least some ties with the Tobruk government, and its sometimes backers in Egypt. Indeed, it is the tribes who in many ways dominate political life as much of Libyan society has fallen back on tribal affiliations and loyalties in the wake of the destruction of Gaddafi’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya government.

With disunity having been created by the NATO war on Libya, and the introduction of longtime CIA asset General Khalifa Haftar into a political equation already exhaustingly complex with myriad factions and shifting loyalties, it becomes rather difficult to know exactly where each group and alliance stands. As if to complicate the matter further, Saif has been held since 2011 by the militias centered in the city of Zintan; the Zintanis were no friends of Gaddafi, but have steadfastly refused to cooperate with the Al Qaeda-Muslim Brotherhood allied factions dominating Tripoli as part of the so-called “Libya Dawn” coalition.

Of course, one cannot forget about Abdelhakim Belhadj and the fighters of his Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which played a key role in the NATO-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Belhadj, the darling of western intelligence and political elites like John McCain and Lindsey Graham (who posed for pictures with the infamous Al Qaeda terrorist), had been accused of being involved in training ISIS operatives in Eastern Libya, though sources in Libya have denied the claim, instead maintaining that Belhadj remains holed up in the Tripoli airport, commanding his fighters in alliance with his longtime Al Qaeda comrades.

All of this is to say that the political map of Libya is like broken glass, fractured into dozens of pieces strewn about by the destruction of the once peaceful and prosperous nation. But in the midst of all the chaos, there have been moments of hope, moments when it seemed a pushback from the people of Libya might soon come.

One key element of the political situation in Libya that is often ignored is the role of Egypt’s President Sisi. While Sisi has a dubious human rights record of his own, in the Libyan context his government has seeminglyprovided air support to the Tobruk government and its allied tribal groups fighting against ISIS/Daesh terrorists, and potentially also against Al Qaeda-affiliated groups. Sources inside Libya have conveyed that, contrary to rumors on social media, Egyptian forces have been closely collaborating with some key Libyan factions, including representatives of the tribes whose loyalty remains with the Gaddafis.

In this convoluted political picture, one must see beyond simply “good guys” and “bad guys,” and instead understand that while there are indeed good guys and bad guys, some of the good guys are sometimes bad, while some of the bad guys are sometimes good. Got it? Good.

The Leader Libya Needs, the Leader It Deserves

It is against this dizzying political backdrop that one must examine the significance of a potential return for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Saif remains a hero to many Libyans who see in him the inheritor of the independent spirit of his father, a man whose education and erudition, and most importantly wartime experience, make him a natural leader.

It should be remembered that Saif was the main advocate of the rapprochement between Libya and the West in the early 2000s, spearheading the campaign for Libya’s disarmament of its nuclear and long-range ballistic missiles program. However, by 2011 and the US-NATO illegal war on Libya, Saif had changed his tune, regretting terribly his having taken western leaders at their word. In a now infamous interview with RTconducted in the midst of the NATO war, Saif stated:

“Many countries, Iran and North Korea are among them, told us it was our mistake to give up, to have stopped developing long-range missiles and to become friendly with the West. Our example means one should never trust the West and should always be on alert – for them it is fine to change their mind overnight and start bombing Libya…One of our biggest mistakes was that we delayed buying new weapons, especially from Russia, and delayed building a strong army. We thought Europeans were our friends; our mistake was to be tolerant with our enemies.”

One could sense the penitence in Saif’s voice, a man who acknowledged his own responsibility in weakening his country and opening it to foreign invasion. But Saif’s contrition, almost a plea for forgiveness from his people, was also seen by many Libyans as the mark of his true character, a man who forthrightly accepted responsibility while simultaneously standing defiant against the most powerful military alliance in the world, and its terrorist proxies overrunning his country. Indeed, for many, this was the moment – along with hisappearance at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli before a crowd of stunned reporters and Libyans – when Saif ceased to be simply the favored son, and instead became a bona fide leader.

And today, nearly five years later, Saif remains the chosen son of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – a man who has endured five years of confinement at the hands of his one-time enemies, who has remained defiant of the US and of its puppet institutions such as the International Criminal Court. His is the man who for so many represents the promise of a better future by symbolizing a better past.

And this is why factions inside Libya, and their backers in the US and Europe, are terrified of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi; they understand perfectly what he represents. They know that Saif commands the loyalty and respect of the majority of Libyans, far more than any other single faction. They know that Saif is backed by the most influential tribes in the country, as well as what remains of the Green Resistance which has emerged at key moments in the last few years, including the brief takeover of a critical air base in the southern city of Sabha in January 2014. They know that Saif is the only individual leader left in Libya who can unite the disparate political formations into a single force prepared to finally defeat the jihadist elements backed by the US-NATO.

But the fear of Saif runs even deeper than just the theoretical leadership that he represents. Rather, the powers that be fear the political force he already is. When Saif’s death sentence was handed down by a kangaroo court in Tripoli, supporters of Gaddafi and the Jamhiriya took to the streets in Benghazi, Sirte, Bani Walid, and a number of other cities across the country, despite ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists in control of much of those cities. At the risk of their own lives, these Libyans carried portraits of the assassinated Col. Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam, chanting their names and calling for a restoration of the socialist government. Consider the devotion necessary for followers to risk life and limb in a show of political support. Now imagine what would happen with Saif free.

Sources in Libya, and among those who have fled to neighboring countries, as well as Europe, have noted that elements of the former Gaddafi government have been working closely with the Sisi government in Egypt. While it is difficult to confirm independently, such a move is entirely plausible considering the common jihadi enemy both face in Libya which shares a long, porous border with Egypt. Assuming that the collaboration is true, it presents yet another reason why the US and its proxies, to say nothing of the terror groups inside Libya, would greatly fear Saif’s freedom. With the backing of an assertive Egypt, the all-important tribal councils, and elements of the disparate factions on the ground, Saif would instantly become the single most powerful man in Libya.

And for those in the West, it is incumbent on everyone to vigorously and publicly defend Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and to redouble efforts to back him. Saif represents a chance for Libya to be rebuilt, for the country to be pulled from the morass of chaos manufactured by the US and its NATO partners. Saif is the hope of the Libyan people who have suffered unspeakable horrors these last five years. Even those who have no love lost for Gaddafi understand the importance of reconstituting a single, united Libya under a single, united government. Only Saif al-Islam Gaddafi can do that now. And that’s why freedom for Saif might one day mean freedom for Libya.

(Source / 16.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 16, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Revolution Libye

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Syrian Coalition Congratulates Turkish People on Defending Democracy

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The Syrian Coalition congratulated the Turkish people on their success in defending the democratic institutions of Turkey in the face of “desperate attempts to hijack the will of the people.”

In a statement released earlier on Saturday, the Coalition said: “The Turkish people, who have long realized the values of freedom and democracy and who have reaped the fruits of these values, will not allow a group of coup plotters to hijack their will and restore military rule in Turkey. They will not allow them to take Turkey back to times when the Turkish people were robbed of their freedom.”

“In the past few hours, the Turkish people have shown how much they value democracy as they did throughout the ten past years. They courageously defended their freedom and proved that Turkey, its government and its political parties are able to safeguard democracy,” the Coalition added.

The Coalition’s statement went on: “We at the Syrian Coalition, as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, congratulate our Turkish brothers and sisters for courageously thwarting the coup. We also salute the choices of the Turkish people which produced leaders who have made outstanding achievements worthy of all respect and appreciation.”

The Coalition also said that “the Syrian people are looking forward to the day when they can exercise democracy and defend it; to live in a state of freedom, justice and equality for all.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 16.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 16, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Syrian Coalition Holds Panel Discussion on Kurdish Issue and Federal System

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The Syrian Coalition organized a panel discussion entitled: “the Kurdish Issue and the Federal System.” The panel discussion was held in Istanbul on Friday with the presence of members of the Coalition, the National Kurdish Council and a number of independent Arab and Kurdish intellectuals.

The panel shed light on the participation of the Kurds in the political life in Syria since the emergence of the Syrian state, their role during the rise of pan-Arabism and the challenges facing the Syrian revolution in predominantly Kurdish areas in Syria as well as the participation of Syrian Kurds in the revolution. The panel also discussed forms of civil administration in liberated areas as well as the Kurdish and Arab visions of the shape of the Syrian state after the revolution.

Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Hawas Khalil said that the panel discussion aims to boost cooperation and cohesion among different components of the Syrian society.

Khalil stressed the need for raising the Kurdish issue and explaining it to all Syrians after decades-long attempts by the Assad regime to marginalize and distort this issue with the aim of sowing division among various components of the Syrian society.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 16.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 16, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Tunisian parties agree on principles for unity government

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Tunisian flag.

Nine Tunisian parties and three national organisations signed the Carthage Document which sets out the priorities of the national unity government, at the Carthage Palace yesterday.

The document sets nine priorities for the national unity government including the fight against terrorism and corruption, increased development, youth employment, administrative reform and the city and local community policy.

On 4 July, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi concluded talks on the national unity government initiative.

One of the president’s advisors, Aida Klibi, told the Anadolu Agency: “The signing ceremony was attended by national figures and other parties who had met the president during the consultation period.”

Representatives of Nidaa Tounes, Ennahda, the Free Patriotic Union, Afek Tounes, Tunisia Project Movement, Echaab Movement, Al-Moubadara, Al-Joumhouri and Al-Massar party also attended the meetings.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Written by altahrir

July 14, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Revolution Tunisia

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