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Bouteflika wins 4th term as Algerian president

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Algeria’s ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (C), running for re-election, is pushed in a wheelchair next to his nephew after casting his ballot at a polling station in Algiers on April 17, 2014. 

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for 15 years and is confined to a wheelchair, has won a fourth term with 81.53 percent of votes, Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz announced on Friday.

Algeria’s election results.

Bouteflika’s closest rival Ali Benflis, who came second with 12.18 percent of votes cast, refused to recognize the incumbent’s re-election.

“I do not recognize the result… (because) recognizing it would be complicit in fraud,” Benflis told a news conference after being declared runner-up with 12.18 percent of the vote.

The 69-year-old former prime minister, who had already cited “serious irregularities” on polling day, condemned what he called “an alliance between fraud, suspicious money and the bought media.”

Algerian opposition leader Ali Benflis gestures during a press conference following his defeat in the presidential elections in Algiers on April 18, 2014.

The interior minister said the voter turnout stood at 51.3 turnout percent, highlighting the “free and fair” electoral process. He said some “minor” incidents did not amount to a major issue that could disrupt the elections.

Violence had erupted in the eaters region of Kabyle and several protesters had erupted in the capital Algiers against Bouteflika running for a fourth term.

Bouteflika, 77, had been widely expected to win a fourth term, even though he appeared only rarely since a stroke last year. Opposition parties boycotted the vote or denounced Thursday’s election as a fraud.

His chief opponent, Benflis, already criticized the election as marked by “fraud on a massive scale” after polls closed Thursday.

The results came after a three-week election campaign that saw a spirited effort by Benflis and his supporters. He has vowed to contest the results.

Official figures for turnout were 51.7 turnout, down from the 75 percent turnout for Bouteflika’s last win in 2009. The figures have been described by activists and opposition politicians as inflated, according to Associated Press.

Since suffering from a stroke last year, there have been concerns about the president’s ability to run this key energy supplier for Europe.

Six opposition parties boycotted Thursday’s vote, saying it would not reform a system mostly closed to change since the FLN’s one-party rule in the early post-independence years.

Bouteflika did not campaign himself, but loyalists praise him for guiding Algeria out of a 1990s war with Islamists that killed 200,000 people. The conflict left many Algerians wary of the turmoil that has swept neighbouring Tunisia, Egypt and Libya since their “Arab Spring” revolts in 2011.

Shocking image

Many Algerians say ageing FLN leaders, business magnates and army generals – known as “Le Pouvoir” or “The Power”, in French – have long managed politics in behind-the-scenes negotiations and see themselves as guardians of stability.

Bouteflika in the past had said it was time for his generation to step aside, but his appearance in a wheelchair at a polling station was a striking image for many Algerians.

“It came as a shock to see a man sitting in a wheelchair to vote while seeking to run a large country for five years. It’s not good for the image of Algeria,” said Mohamed, a 26-year-old university student.

Algeria mostly escaped the “Arab Spring” unrest that has toppled long-standing leaders in the region since 2011.

Some Algerians point to the 1980s when the FLN opened up one-party rule to opposition and brought an Islamist party close to election victory. The FLN suspended the vote, and the country slipped into more than a decade of war.

Riots and protests are common among younger Algerians frustrated over joblessness, economic opportunities and housing shortages. But widescale anti-government protests are rare in Algeria.

A small movement, called Barakat or “Enough” in local dialect, emerged after Bouteflika’s re-election bid to call for peaceful change, though its numbers were limited.

With around $200 billion in foreign reserves from energy sales, the Algerian government spent heavily in 2011 on subsidies, cheap credits and housing to calm rioting over food prices.

Analysts say that after years of state-controlled policies, the OPEC member state needs reforms to open up its economy to more foreign investment and attract more big oil operators to revive its stagnant energy production.

(Source / 18.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 18, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Revolution Algeria

Tagged with ,

Erdogan challenges social media in top Turkish court

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A Twitter logo on an iPhone display is pictured next to a Turkish flag in this photo illustration taken in Istanbul March 21, 2014. 

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan applied to Turkey’s constitutional court on Friday to challenge the alleged violation of his and his family’s rights by social media, a senior official in his office told Reuters.

Erdogan’s government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March, drawing international condemnation, after audio recordings, purportedly showing corruption in his inner circle, were leaked on their sites.

The Twitter block was lifted earlier this month after the constitutional court ruled that it breached freedom of expression, a decision Erdogan has since said was wrong and should be overturned. YouTube remains blocked in Turkey.

The senior official said Erdogan had made the application to the constitutional court via his lawyer in a complaint over the failure to implement court rulings requesting the removal of content violating his rights. The prime minister was seeking 50,000 lira ($23,500) compensation.

Turkish officials held talks with a delegation from Twitter in Ankara this week to try to resolve the dispute. But there was no immediate deal to open a Twitter office in Turkey or for it to pay Turkish tax, two of Ankara’s key requests.

Access to Twitter was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections to stem a stream of leaked wiretapped recordings. Erdogan said he would “root out” the network.

(Source / 18.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Revolution

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Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting #there_was_no_Palestine

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One of the common assertions one finds in Zionist propaganda is that there “was never any.” This odd allegation is simply not true.  has been used for a very long time to refer to the geographical area south of Sidon and north of the Sinai. There are medieval Muslim coins from a mint in that area with “Filastin” () written on them. In the nineteenth century, diaries survive of locals who visited Damascus e.g. and wrote about how they missed “Filastin”, i.e. . At the Versailles Peace Conference, the Class A Mandate of Palestine was created, and in 1939 it was scheduled for independence within 10 years. I.e. British colonial administrators believed there was a Palestine and that it would soon become an independent country (as happened to similar Class A Mandates in Lebanon & Syria and Iraq).

There is currently an ironic  meme by #there_was_no_Palestine, to which people are contributing visual evidence of Palestine. In 1920 when the League of Nations created the Palestinian state, it had a population of 700,000, of which about 76,000 were Jews. Almost all of the latter had immigrated in the previous 70 years. In 1850 only 4% of the population had been Jewish. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte found only 3,000 Jews. There had been hardly any Jews in Palestine since about 1100 AD.

So not only was there a Palestine, full of hundreds of thousands of people, over millennia, but there was a very long period of near-absence on the part of Jews. This absence was not because of a forcible expulsion. Rather, Jews in Palestine had converted to , and then many of those converted to Islam.

If what is being alleged is that there was no nation-state called Palestine, at least before the League of Nations created one, that is banal. There were no nation-states until the 19th century. There was no “Italy” before 1860. Venice was Austrian, Genoa French. There was no “Germany” before 1870. Lots of small principalities, some of them under other rule or influence. It is common for Romantic Nationalists of the early 19th century variety to imagine that the Greece that came into being in the 1820s (after having been an  province for some 300 years) was somehow a revival of the ancient land known as Greece. But it isn’t. That is a naive “Sleeping Beauty” theory of nationalism. There was no nation-state of  before 1948. That some ancient tribes might have been called that is irrelevant. Ancient tribes were also called Philistines, a form of the modern Palestinian.

In essence, the assertion by  that there “was never any Palestine” has to be seen as a cruel boast, since it was their  campaign of 1947-48 that forestalled British and League of Nations plans to see an independent country of Palestine created, and which made most Palestinians refugees and stateless.

Here’s a sample of the Twitter campaign, embedding the tweets and accompanying photos:

View image on Twitter

Checkpoint between lebanon and palestine in the 30s so ?

View image on Twitter

Anne Frank, in her 1944 diary entry, writes about Palestine.

View image on Twitter

1942, Palestinian coins

  1. Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting http://dlvr.it/5QR6T3 

@jricole pic.twitter.com/OR8mjl0aZM

View image on Twitter

 View image on Twitter

Can someone read the name of the country and the date out loud for the ones who say ?

 View image on Twitter

Old Palestinian newspaper so how do u say ?

Editor note (Haitham Sabbah) – Few more from my collection

View image on Twitter

Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting http://sabbah.in/1jQG4cn 

View image on Twitter

Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting http://sabbah.in/1jQG4cn 

View image on Twitter

Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting http://sabbah.in/1jQG4cn 

 View image on Twitter

Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting http://sabbah.in/1jQG4cn 

View image on Twitter

Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting http://sabbah.in/1jQG4cn 

British Pathé: “In Palestine Today (1938)” [British propaganda short about the 1936-1939 Arab Rebellion in Mandate Palestine]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-qMO4hk0aQ

(Source / 18.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 18, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Egypt destroys 5 new tunnels under Gaza border

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Egyptian flag

The Egyptian army has announced the destruction of five new tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip.

A security official told the German news agency that as part of the military campaign carried out by the army in the Sinai Peninsula, the Corps of Engineers and border guards detected five new tunnels in the Saladin, Al-Habashi and Al-Dehainah areas. The order to destroy all five of the tunnels was carried out on Thursday.

The official added that during the campaign, in which all units of the Second Army took part, villages south of Sheikh Zuwaid, Rafah and El-Arish were attacked, after the army had cut communications and cell phone networks in Sinai. Military operations are currently underway in those villages; no results have been announced. He affirmed that the army will continue its military campaign in the Sinai until it is “free of terrorism”.

(Source / 18.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Tunisian envoy seized in Libya

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TRIPOLI: A Tunisian diplomat was kidnapped Thursday in Tripoli in unknown circumstances, a Libyan security source told AFP, just two days after armed men seized Jordan’s ambassador.

A Tunisian source confirmed the abduction and identified the diplomat as Al-Aroussi Al-Fatnassi, without giving further details.

Tunis’s ambassador to Libya, Ridha Boukadi, refused to comment.

Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Lessoued said he could not confirm nor deny the reported abduction, the latest in a string of incidents targeting foreign diplomats and Libyan politicians.

A Tripoli police official, however said the diplomat was seized by unknown assailants near the central Al-Kadissiya square not far from the Tunisian Embassy.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Revolution Libye

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Humanitarian aid convoy heads to besieged Gaza Strip

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An international humanitarian convoy known as “Miles of Smiles 26” has headed toward the besieged Gaza Strip to break the blockade imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli regime.

According to a government committee in charge of breaking the siege in Gaza, the human rights solidarity convoy is scheduled to reach the coastal strip on Sunday, April 20, through the Rafah crossing.

The convoy includes over 30 activists from Arab and European countries.

The deputy chairman of the committee, Aladdin al-Battah, said the convoy will be taking humanitarian aid and medical materials to hospitals in Gaza.

On January 8, the “Miles of Smiles 24″ arrived in the besieged area through the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt. Only seven of the 127 activists were allowed into Gaza.

Over the past few years, the Miles of Smiles convoy has delivered humanitarian supplies to Palestinians in the impoverished region, defying the Israeli blockade.

Since the December 2008-January 2009 war that Israel imposed on Gaza, several convoys have successfully managed to break the Israeli blockade.

The Gaza Strip has been suffering under an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade imposed by the Israeli regime since 2007.

The siege has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the enclave, turning the territory into the world’s largest open-air prison.

Tel Aviv denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights such as freedom of movement, access to jobs that pay proper wages, adequate healthcare, and education.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Algeria’s Bouteflika poised to win re-election

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An electoral commission worker gives out ballot paper to a voter in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on April 17, 2014.

The polls opened in Algeria’s presidential election on Thursday with the incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika widely expected to win after 15 years in power even though he has spoken rarely in public since suffering a stroke last year.

More than 260,000 police have been deployed to protect the 50,000 polling booths set up across Africa’s largest country, where 23 million Algerians are eligible to vote in a contest between six candidates after polling opened at 8:00 am (0700 GMT).

The ailing Bouteflika cast his ballot from a wheelchair at a polling station in Algiers.

Algeria’s ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (C), running for re-election, casts his ballot from a wheelchair as his nephew (L) watches on at a polling station in Algiers on April 17, 2014.

A smiling Bouteflika arrived at Bachir  el-Ibrahimi school in the el-Biar district and waved to reporters but made no statement.

Shown live on television, he was accompanied by two of his brothers, including Said who serves as special adviser to the president, and a young nephew.

The 77-year-old president, who rose to power in 1999, is the firm favorite. But with warnings of electoral fraud and opposition calls for a boycott, the focus will be on turnout before polling stations close at 1800 GMT.

An Algerian woman casts her vote at a polling station in the capital Algiers on April 17, 2014.

With the dominant National Liberation Front (FLN) party, allied movements and unions behind him, Bouteflika is almost assured victory and another five years governing the North African OPEC state.

The results are expected at the earliest on Friday.

The outcome of the election is key for Western governments. Algeria is seen as a partner in Washington’s campaign against Islamist militancy in the Maghreb and as a stable supplier of around a fifth of Europe’s gas imports.

But concerns about Bouteflika’s health and how Algeria manages any transition have raised questions about stability in a region where neighboring Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are still struggling with turmoil after 2011 Arab Spring revolts.

“He has all the health he needs to carry out his duties,” said Abdelmalek Sellal, who resigned as prime minister to campaign for Bouteflika.

Loyalists portray Bouteflika as the man who helped stabilize Algeria after its 1990s war with militants. After the experience of that conflict, many Algerians are still wary of political upheaval, especially with an unstable region around them.

Infographic: Profile: Abdelaziz Bouteflika

But several opposition parties have boycotted the election, saying it is slanted in favor of Bouteflika and unlikely to bring reforms to a system little changed since independence from France in 1962.

“In case there is fraud I will not shut up,” opposition front-runner Ali Benflis told reporters. “This does not mean we will push for chaos, because we have opted for stability.”

Bouteflika, a veteran of Algeria’s war of independence, won the 2009 election with 90 percent of the vote.

Analysts say that since independence, Algerian politics have been mostly controlled by a cabal of FLN elites and army generals who, while competing behind the scenes for influence, see themselves as guarantors of stability.

Bouteflika’s allies have pushed to strengthen his position by reducing the influence of the powerful military intelligence chief, who for years played the role of kingmaker in Algerian politics.

Still, analysts say, political rivalries may resurface if Bouteflika’s health ebbs during a fourth term.

Algeria has built up huge foreign reserves from its energy sales – around $200 billion – and has spent heavily on housing and social programs to ward off Arab Spring-style protests. But social tensions over jobs, services and housing are common.

The country also needs reforms to overhaul an economy still hampered by restrictions on foreign investment and to attract more heavyweight oil players to help bolster stagnating oil and gas production.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Revolution Algeria

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Syria conflict: ‘We will be martyrs’ say rebel fighters from inside the besieged city of Homs

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As the final battle for the crucible of the Syrian revolution looms, Fernande van Tets talks to those who are vowing no surrender

The Syrian army began a large scale military campaign on Monday to retake the last four neighbourhoods in opposition hands. Those inside face a stark choice between surrender to the regime or fighting till death. “Life is disastrous in every meaning of the word,” says one activist inside the Old City.

Following a siege of almost two years, there are less than a thousand people remaining in the area. The majority are fighters, but there are several families and two dozen Christians who refused to leave during a UN orchestrated evacuation in February.

Mortars, shelling and aerial bombardments currently pound the remaining residents. There is little to stay for; the buildings are burned out carcasses and there is no food or drinking water. “My last meal was 48 hours ago, and it consisted of grass unfit for cattle to eat” said Hasan Abu Zain, an activist. The cattle has long been eaten, as have locusts, pet turtles and cats. Drinking water is found in stagnant old wells or contaminated with sewage. Morale is low, even before renewed offensive people were pondering whether to leave the enclave. Tunnels, previously used to smuggle food, are no longer possible as they have been sealed off. The only way out is to surrender.

Unable to bear it any longer, three hundred people, mostly rebels and draft evaders, left the Old City two weeks ago. Another 50 people surrendered today, according to the governor’s office, who estimate another 5-600 fighters remain. Between 10 and 15 people have been leaving daily, in exchange for relinquishing their weapons according to the governor, Talal al Barazi.

The men turn themselves in at the Al-Andalus school, where they are subsequently held to investigate their involvement in fighting. The school also holds 100 young men who left the besieged old city during the evacuation in February. The United Nations halted that evacuation, in which 1,400 primarily women, elderly and children left the old City, due to concerns about the fate of the arrested men.

Negotiations to peacefully end the situation in Old Homs have failed. “It is a matter of deep regret that negotiations were brutally stopped and violence is now rife again when a comprehensive agreement seemed close at hand,” Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy said in a statement, calling the city “a theatre of death and destruction”.

There are some who will not leave, no matter what. “It’s impossible for anybody to go out,” insists Abu Jarrah, a fighter who vowed to fight till the end. “If we retreat the regime will slaughter us, and all of the people in Homs know this,” he said. Although he denied reports of fighters wearing suicide belts, he said they would be ready to die. “God willing, we will fight until the last drop of blood and we will be martyrs.” The opposition National Council has warned of a “potential massacre” if government troops enter the rebel-held district.

As the regime consolidates its territory in central Syria in the run up to anticipated elections in June, it is being attacked in other areas of the country. The northern coastal strip near Latakia, the homeland of President Bashar al Assad, has come under attack recently, most notably the Armenian town of Kassab. The city of Aleppo, at a stalemate with rebel areas facing heavy barrel bombardments for months, has also seen a new, coordinated push by rebels on the Western part of the city, held by the regime.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Haniyeh: ‘Turkey is fighting to lift the siege of Gaza’

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Ismail Haniyeh

Haniyeh called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing fully and to allow the movement of both goods and individuals

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday that Turkey is “fighting” in every way to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

“I haven’t forgotten about Turkey, which sacrificed for the Palestinians in the Freedom Flotilla, and which continues to fight diplomatically and politically to help lift the siege on the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh told a press conference at the inauguration ceremony for a number of Qatar-funded projects. Nine humanitarian activists were killed when Israeli occupation forces carried out a violent attack on the Turkish-flagged aid flotilla on 31 May 2010 as it headed for the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing fully and to allow the movement of both goods and individuals. “We thank Egypt for facilitating the entry of the construction material required for these projects and we call on [the Egyptian government] to open the Rafah border crossing permanently, around the clock,” said the prime minister.

Thanking Qatar for its support for Gaza, Mr Haniyeh noted that the projects the Gulf State is funding represent a turning point for the besieged territory. “It only took one hour with His Highness Emir Hamad, just one hour, to approve these projects worth $400 million,” he added.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Syrian self-immolation refugee to Lebanon renews call for support

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Mariam, a 45-year-old Syrian refugee woman, receives treatment for her severe burns at a hospital in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli. 

A Syrian refugee in Lebanon who doused herself with petrol and set herself alight after her U.N. aid was cut said her case deserves support from the refugee agency.

Mariam al-Khawli, who fled Syria with her husband and four children two years ago, set herself on fire in January in frustration at living without the food and cash lifeline provided by the United Nations since August.

Three weeks after Al Arabiya’s first visit, Mariam is still in the hospital and her health condition appears to have improved. However, it is a matter of months until she fully recovers.

She told Al Arabiya she does not regret setting herself ablaze.

“There’s lots of pain. I do not regret it, I felt relieved when I burnt myself. My children were telling me they feel dizzy and I couldn’t feed them. I set myself ablaze for the sake of my children,” she said.

Mariam said her family relied heavily on aid as her husband is unable to work due to a lung abscess and three of her children have a blood condition.

“The Syrian people are heartbroken over their children. I urge all people to help my family and Syrian refugees,” Mariam added.

Although the U.N. refugee agency is sponsoring Mariam’s treatment at the hospital, her family was not registered on the agency’s fund list.

The U.N. refugee agency says there are one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The agency says a shortage of funds from donors is limiting the U.N.’s ability to support many refugees like Mariam.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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