• Caught in Russia-Ukraine storm: a cargo ship and tonnes of grain | Reuters

    Cranes and ships are seen in the Azov Sea port of Berdyansk, Ukraine November 30, 2018. Picture taken November 30, 2018.
    REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

    When the Island Bay cargo ship arrived from Beirut at the Kerch Strait, gateway to the Azov Sea, it sailed into a perfect storm of geopolitics and bad weather.

    The following day, Russia opened fire on three Ukrainian naval ships, impounded them and detained their sailors, some of them wounded. It then blocked the strait by putting a tanker underneath a new bridge it has built linking the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

    While the world digested the implications of the Nov. 25 incident, the most explosive clash in recent years, Russia said it had reopened the channel to the Azov Sea, which is shared by Russia and Ukraine.

    But Island Bay remained at anchor outside the strait, lashed by gale force winds and sleet, its hull icing over while cargo ships amassed on either side.

    On Monday, a week on, the captain reported seeing 20 vessels awaiting clearance to cross. Refinitiv data that day also showed 20 Ukraine-bound vessels held up at the strait since Nov. 25, with two others allowed through.

    Meanwhile, Island Bay’s cargo of 5,500 tonnes of wheat, destined for flour mills in Libya, waited in the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk.
    In Berdyansk’s port, where icy winds had recently ripped off the roof of a nearby shed, staff of stevedore company Ascet Shipping were reading the daily reports from the Island Bay with growing concern.

    Ascet loads almost a million tonnes of Ukrainian grain a year onto cargo ships in Berdyansk and was waiting to load the Island Bay; its size means each day of waiting time costs around $2,000-$2,500, Ascet’s chief executive, Denis Rusin, said.

    This has made Berdyansk an unpopular port in recent months.

    Ship owners do not want to go to Berdyansk,” said Rusin, whose clients include U.S. firm Cargill [CARG.UL], one of the world’s largest dry bulk and tank shipping companies. “Buyers are refusing to bet on passage.

  • Putin’s interests in Syria and Lebanon are limiting Israel’s military options
    Playing chess with Hezbollah is one thing. Trying to figure out what Putin wants, in Syria and perhaps also in Lebanon, even as Hezbollah is trying to manufacture weapons there, is a completely different challenge
    Amos Harel - Nov 18, 2018 9:39 AM

    One reason for Israel’s exceptional caution in dealing with Hamas in the Gaza Strip is its growing concern over the northern front. Though it may sound like a threadbare excuse, this seems to be one of the considerations driving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to decide, time after time, to try to reach a cease-fire in Gaza.

    The problem Israel faces in the north, in a nutshell, is the real danger that its operational window of opportunity is closing. In recent years, Israel has exploited the upheaval in the Arab world to expand its offensive activity, most of which is secret.

    Via hundreds of airstrikes and special operations, the army and the intelligence agencies have worked to distance the danger of another war and reduce the enemy’s operational capabilities in the event that war does break out.

    In Syria and Lebanon, the campaign initially focused on preventing Iran from smuggling advanced weaponry to Hezbollah. But over the last year or so, a new mission has been added – preventing Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. This peaked with a flurry of incidents between the Israel Defense Forces and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards last winter and spring.

    A problem may also be developing in Lebanon. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Netanyahu warned of efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to set up missile production facilities in the Beirut area. Given the problems its smuggling operations had encountered, the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force apparently decided it had to shorten the distance between the manufacturer and the customer by moving its efforts to improve the accuracy of Hezbollah’s rockets to Lebanon.

    Netanyahu’s speech did its job. In the three days between that speech and the tour of Beirut the Lebanese government conducted for diplomats to rebut it, someone worked hard to get rid of the evidence. But over the long run, Iran seems unlikely to abandon this effort.

    What’s even more worrying is that Putin has recently displayed increased interest in events in Lebanon. In the worst-case scenario, the defensive umbrella — both real and symbolic — that Russia has spread over northwest Syria would be expanded to Lebanon, further complicating Israel’s calculus.

    Even now, at least according to Arab media reports, Israel hasn’t conducted an airstrike in Lebanon since February 2014, when the IAF, apparently pursuing an arms convoy that had crossed the border from Syria, bombed a target in Janta, a few hundred meters to the Lebanese side of the Lebanon-Syria border.

    Hezbollah, which was willing to pretend the spit was rain as long as its convoys were being bombed on the Syrian side, immediately responded with a series of attacks by Druze residents of the Syrian Golan Heights.

    The cell’s commander, Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, and his successor, Hezbollah’s Jihad Mughniyeh, were both subsequently killed in attacks attributed to Israel. Since then, Israel has confined its attacks to Syria.

    But playing chess with Hezbollah is one thing. Trying to figure out what Putin wants, in Syria and perhaps also in Lebanon, even as Hezbollah is trying to manufacture weapons there, is a challenge of a completely different order of magnitude.

    Netanyahu was presumably hinting at this problem, among others, when he spoke about security considerations that he can’t share with the public, at the memorial for Paula Ben-Gurion earlier this week.


  • Opinion | Iran & Saudi Arabia, Thelma & Louise - The New York Times

    Les cons, ça ose tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnaît... Après avoir chanté les louanges de MBS (Mohamed Bone Saw), Friedman vous analyse la politique extérieure iranienne !

    And how did that work out?

    Iran denuclearized, but the Revolutionary Guards used the release of pressure and fresh cash and investments from the West to further project their power into the Sunni Arab world, consolidating the grip of Iran’s proxies over four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Sana and Beirut.

    Worse, Iran and its Lebanese Shiite mercenary army, Hezbollah, joined with Syria’s pro-Shiite regime in suppressing any chance of power-sharing with Syrian rebels and helped that regime ethnically cleanse Sunnis from key districts in Syria. Iran and its mercenaries also winked at Syria’s genocidal use of poison gas and barrel bombs, which contributed mightily to the death toll from the Syrian civil war of some 500,000 people, with 11 million people displaced.

    Iran’s imperial overstretch was halted only by the Israeli Air Force dealing a heavy blow to Iranian units in Syria when Iran sent missiles there to attack Israel.

    I thought the Iran deal was a bet worth making. No regrets. It did curb Iran’s nuclear program — a big deal — but it did nothing to moderate Iran’s regional behavior, which was never part of the pact. Indeed, it may have been the price of it, as Iran’s supreme leader seemed to compensate for making the deal with the “American devil” by allowing the Revolutionary Guards a freer hand to project their power.

    #friedman #nyt #iran

  • Barak Ravid sur Twitter : « 1 \ Scoop on news10 tonight : Israel asked France to convey a warning message to Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri regarding the missile factories built by Hezbollah and Iran near Beirut, Western Diplomats told me » / Twitter

    Si je comprends bien ces psychopathes qui promettent depuis plus de 10 ans à longueur de colonnes de journaux l’apocalypse au Liban, ce dernier devrait fermer les soit disant ateliers de missiles pour pouvoir pulvériser tranquillement le pays ?

    #insane #Israel #pays_de_merde

  • Beyrouth, à moitié réveillé

    Les établissements de nuit grignotent peu à peu la capitale libanaise, redessinent l’espace et mélangent les confessions, mais restent réservés à une jeunesse aisée.
    A la nuit tombée, les rues branchées de Beyrouth dégagent la même effervescence : les musiques émanant des bars viennent se mêler au son des klaxons et des cris des noctambules qui s’interpellent, se retrouvent, s’oublient. Dans les quartiers de #Hamra, #Mar_Mikhaël ou #Badaro, les robes ajustées côtoient les blousons des voituriers et les tabliers des serveurs qui circulent entre les tables. Ces lieux remplis de monde, de bruit et d’alcool, constituent un terrain de jeu de plus de 200 bars et boîtes de nuit où se rassemble une partie de la jeunesse libanaise.
    Certains établissements sont devenus des icônes urbaines en raison de leur longévité inhabituelle (comme le B018, ouvert pour la première fois en 1994), de leur décor spectaculaire ou de leur capacité d’accueil (à l’instar du club Uberhaus ou du Grand Factory, logé sur le toit d’un bâtiment industriel). Omniprésente dans les clips de promotion touristique, la vie nocturne de Beyrouth est aujourd’hui un modèle qui s’exporte : la Beirut Electro Parade, qui organise un événement à Paris ce mois-ci, en est un exemple. Rappelant que la concurrence internationale entre les métropoles se joue aussi sur les activités nocturnes, Beyrouth offre un vaste champ d’investigation pour qui intègre la nuit à la réflexion géographique et étudie les usages de l’espace relevant de la consommation et du plaisir.


    La concentration des établissements nocturnes dessine à l’échelle de la ville une géographie prioritaire et mouvante prenant la forme d’un archipel d’îlots lumineux facilement repérables dans un contexte où l’éclairage urbain est globalement défaillant. L’observation de ces quartiers éclaire la recomposition permanente des centralités urbaines : ils émergent dans des lieux à l’origine peu animés, sous l’impulsion d’entrepreneurs pionniers qui ouvrent les premiers établissements. Leur densification rapide s’explique ensuite par le rythme soutenu d’ouvertures et de fermetures des bars et des boîtes de nuit et la faible réglementation d’un secteur lucratif. S’y ajoute un effet de mimétisme qui résulte d’un choix fondé sur l’emplacement et la proximité, permettant de capter l’essentiel des mobilités nocturnes.

    Axe principal de Mar Mikhaël, la rue d’Arménie compte ainsi une trentaine de bars sur 500 mètres. Dans le centre-ville, la rue de l’Uruguay regroupait, en 2015, 19 établissements sur une centaine de mètres. L’émergence des nouvelles centralités nocturnes est par ailleurs liée à la gentrification des quartiers centraux et péricentraux de Beyrouth. Le succès des établissements, certes peu durable, contribue à la hausse des prix du foncier et du marché locatif. Un tel constat montre que la gentrification ne se limite pas au changement du profil résidentiel d’un quartier : elle concerne aussi les appropriations temporelles et matérielles de l’espace.

    La géographie changeante de la nuit beyrouthine se comprend également à travers les mutations spatiales liées à la guerre civile libanaise (1975-1990). Les quinze années de conflit correspondent en effet à une fragmentation du territoire libanais et de sa capitale sur une base confessionnelle et politique. La plus emblématique est la ligne de démarcation ayant séparé, de manière schématique, les quartiers chrétiens et musulmans de Beyrouth. Ces divisions, conjuguées à l’instauration d’un système milicien, ont entraîné le délitement des espaces publics et la fermeture de la quasi-totalité des cafés, bars et clubs qui avaient fleuri dans la ville, à l’image de l’emblématique quartier de Hamra.

    A partir des années 90 et dans les années 2000, la sortie nocturne devient le moteur efficace d’une réappropriation physique des espaces urbains notamment autour de la rue Monnot. Les ouvertures successives d’établissements nocturnes ont certes profité de la disponibilité foncière d’un quartier accolé à l’ancienne ligne de démarcation et partiellement vidé de ses habitants. Mais les noctambules ayant fréquenté ce quartier aujourd’hui passé de mode soulignent aussi, non sans nostalgie, la symbolique de son emplacement. Monnot a offert la possibilité d’un mélange confessionnel - de la clientèle - fondé sur les pratiques festives, en lieu et place des fractures identitaires imposées et inscrites dans l’espace urbain. Ce rôle fédérateur, partagé par la boîte de nuit B018 ouverte dans les quartiers périphériques de Sin el Fil puis de la Quarantaine, montre que la vie nocturne de Beyrouth a permis une autre reconquête : celle d’un possible « vivre ensemble ».

    La diversité confessionnelle est une réalité des établissements nocturnes, en termes statistiques comme dans les pratiques et les interactions. Elle continue pourtant d’être revendiquée par les noctambules, les barmans et les serveurs, qui ajoutent parfois les divergences politiques, l’acceptation de différentes orientations sexuelles ou la pluralité ethnique. Ces marques d’ouverture ne sont pas l’apanage de tous les établissements : elles concernent des grands clubs au tarif d’entrée accessible (à l’instar du Gärten) ou bars dits alternatifs, orientés à gauche du spectre politique libanais.

    Elles contribuent surtout à alimenter les représentations d’un univers nocturne où une société pacifiée et hédoniste se met en scène, occultant d’autres formes de polarisations. La fréquentation des bars et des boîtes de nuit demeure celle d’une jeunesse aisée, réceptive aux modèles globalisés de la fête et dépositaire d’une identité libanaise cosmopolite et tolérante. Si les nuits beyrouthines fédèrent et brouillent les barrières, elles sont devenues un marqueur social traduisant des rapports de domination d’ordre socio-économique et symbolique.
    #géographie_de_la_nuit #Beyrouth #Liban #nuit #cartographie #visualisation

  • Jamal Khashoggi: A different sort of Saudi | Middle East Eye

    This is the darkest day of my time as editor of Middle East Eye. It should not be. Jamal Khashoggi is not the first Saudi exile to be killed. No one today remembers Nassir al-Sa’id, who disappeared from Beirut in 1979 and has never been seen since.

    Prince Sultan bin Turki was kidnapped from Geneva in 2003. Prince Turki bin Bandar Al Saud, who applied for asylum in France and disappeared in 2015. Maj Gen Ali al-Qahtani, an officer in the Saudi National Guard, who died while still in custody, showed signs of abuse including a neck that appeared twisted and a badly swollen body. And there are many, many others.

    Thousands languish in jail. Human rights activists branded as terrorists are on death row on charges that Human Rights Watch says “do not resemble recognised crimes”. I know of one business leader who was strung upside down, naked and tortured. Nothing has been heard of him since. In Saudi, you are one social media post away from death.

    A Saudi plane dropped a US-made bomb on a school bus in Yemen killing 40 boys and 11 adults on a school trip. Death is delivered by remote control, but no Western ally or arms supplier of Saudi demands an explanation. No contracts are lost. No stock market will decline the mouth-watering prospect of the largest initial public offering in history.  What difference does one more dead Saudi make?

    As a journalist he hated humbug. The motto in Arabic on his Twitter page roughly translates as: “Say what you have to say and walk away.”
    And yet Khashoggi’s death is different. It’s right up close. One minute he is sitting across the table at breakfast, in a creased shirt, apologising in his mumbled, staccato English for giving you his cold. The next minute, a Turkish government contact tells you what they did to his body inside the consulate in Istanbul.

  • Sabra and Shatila: New Revelations
    Seth Anziska , The New York Review of Books, le 17 septembre 2018

    Historians try not to audibly gasp in the reading rooms of official archives, but there are times when the written record retains a capacity to shock. In 2012, while working at the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem, I came across highly classified material from Israel’s 1982 War in Lebanon that had just been opened to researchers. This access was in line with the thirty-year rule of declassification governing the release of documents in Israel. Sifting through Foreign Ministry files, I stumbled upon the minutes of a September 17 meeting between Israeli and American officials that took place in the midst of the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

    The startling verbatim exchange between Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and US diplomat Morris Draper clearly demonstrated how the slaughter of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of south Beirut was prolonged by Draper’s acquiescence in the face of Sharon’s deceptive claim of “terrorists” remaining behind. This made the US unwittingly complicit in the notorious three-day massacre carried out by militiamen linked to the Phalange, a right-wing political party of Lebanese Maronite Christians that was allied with Israel.

    Some critics have always suspected, and hoped to uncover evidence, that Israeli officials explicitly ordered the massacre or directly colluded in its execution. These new documents don’t supply that smoking gun. What they do show is a pattern of extensive cooperation and planning between Israeli and Maronite leaders in the aims and conduct of the war that provides a more comprehensive framework for judging moral accountability. These sources suggest a line of thinking about the political and military defeat of Palestinian nationalism that built on the legacy of the Nakba itself, reaching tragic ends through the destruction wrought in Beirut.

    The excerpts from the Kahan Appendix do, however, underscore the fact that members of the Israeli military and intelligence organizations knew in advance what the Phalange was intending to do to the Palestinians—at a minimum, forced expulsion through threatened or actual deadly violence, and the subsequent razing of the refugee camps. According to the testimony of Colonel Elkana Harnof, a senior Israeli military intelligence officer, the Phalange revealed that “Sabra would become a zoo and Shatilah Beirut’s parking place.” Harnof added details about acts of brutality and massacres that had already taken place, inflicted by Maronite forces with “specific references to acts of elimination of locals ‘most likely Palestinians.’” This was relayed to Defense Minister Sharon as early as June 23, little more than two weeks after the start of the Israeli invasion (II: 78). On that day, a report was passed to Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Sharon that described the Christian militia’s “terminating” 500 people in the evacuation of West Beirut. The Mossad Director Nahum Admoni and others met with Bashir Gemayel and the description of the meeting contains harrowing evidence of what was planned for the Palestinians throughout Lebanon.

    #Palestine #Liban #Sabra #Chatila

  • The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب : Beirut, the movie

    By far, my favorite scene of Jon Hamm’s movie, Beirut: Camels on the beaches of Beirut. Some Israeli assistant director must have come up with this touch.


  • Arabie saoudite : Peine de mort demandée pour des militantes | Mediapart

    La peine de mort a été requise contre cinq militantes des droits de l’homme en Arabie saoudite, ont annoncé Human Rights Watch (HRW) et plusieurs groupes de défense.

    RYAD (Reuters) - La peine de mort a été requise contre cinq militantes des droits de l’homme en Arabie saoudite, ont annoncé Human Rights Watch (HRW) et plusieurs groupes de défense.

    Parmi les détenues figurent Israa al Ghomgham, militante musulmane chiite de premier plan qui a rassemblé des informations sur les manifestations de masse qui ont eu lieu dans la province Orientale à partir de 2011. Elle a été arrêtée chez elle en décembre 2015 avec son mari.

    Elle pourrait être la première femme à être condamnée à la peine capitale pour son activité relative aux droits de l’homme. Elle est notamment accusée d’incitation à manifester et d’avoir apporté un soutien moral à des émeutiers.
    L’Arabie saoudite, monarchie absolue sunnite où les manifestations publiques et les partis politiques sont interdits, a adopté ces dernières années des réformes sociales et économiques de grande envergure sous la houlette du jeune prince héritier Mohamed ben Salman (MBS).

    Mais ces réformes sont accompagnées d’une répression contre les dissidents. Des dizaines de religieux, d’intellectuels et de militants ont été arrêtés cette année, dont des femmes qui avaient fait campagne pour le droit de conduire dans ce pays musulman profondément conservateur.

    Or, les femmes se sont vus récemment accorder le droit de passer leur permis de conduire.

    « Toute exécution est effroyable, mais demander la peine de mort pour des militantes comme Israa al Ghomgham, qui ne sont même pas accusées de comportement violent, est monstrueux », a déclaré mercredi Sarah Leah Whitson, directrice de HRW au Moyen-Orient.

    ALQST, un groupe saoudien de défense des droits de l’homme basé à Londres, a rapporté la décision concernant Israa al Ghomgham au début de la semaine.

    Des militantes des droits de l’homme ! Ce sont pour les droits des femmes qu’elles se battent et que les hommes vont les décapitées.

    • #merci @mad_meg de systématiquement relever la question terminologique, il reste un long chemin à faire avant de réussir à passer des droits de l’homme aux droits humains. Il se trouve qu’on s’est accroché il y a quelques mois avec un groupe de militantes (de défense des droits humains, donc) - et non pas de militants mâles pourtant, qui souhaitaient utiliser nos cartes pour leur nouveau site, et qui ont refusé de changer l’expression « Droits de l’homme » pour « Droits humains » au prétexte que c’était l’histoire, que ça venait des « Lumières » et qu’on ne s’essuit pas les pieds sur l’Histoire. Voilà aussi ce contre quoi il faut se battre. J’ajoute que jai finalement refusé de fournir la cartographie tant que l’expresion « Droits de l’homme » figurerait sur le site.

    • Merci @reka de ne pas avoir laissé passer ça. Il y a parfois des femmes qui s’arcboutent pour conserver un statut d’inférieures à toutes les autres femmes.

      Et je souligne aussi la #traduction_sexiste de médiapart avec son « militantes des droits de l’homme » d’autant que Human Rights Watch a fait un communiqué en anglais.

      (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution is seeking the death penalty against five Eastern Province activists, including female human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham, Human Rights Watch said today. The activists, along with one other person not facing execution, are being tried in the country’s terrorism tribunal on charges solely related to their peaceful activism.

      The Public Prosecution, which reports directly to the king, accused the detained activists of several charges that do not resemble recognizable crimes, including “participating in protests in the Qatif region,” “incitement to protest,” “chanting slogans hostile to the regime,” “attempting to inflame public opinion,” “filming protests and publishing on social media,” and “providing moral support to rioters.” It called for their execution based on the Islamic law principle of ta’zir, in which the judge has discretion over the definition of what constitutes a crime and over the sentence. Authorities have held all six activists in pretrial detention and without legal representation for over two years. Their next court date has been scheduled for October 28, 2018.

      Attention, comme je le soulignais dans un autre seen, la traduction Gogll ne traduit pas le féminin correctement. N’empêche, l’algorithme utilise bien l’expression « droits humains ».


    • Moi aussi, j’essaie d’utiliser systématiquement cette expression. Dans ma trad pour le Nicaragua, je l’ai utilisée partout sauf pour le nom en français de la commission ad hoc à l’Onu mais ça pique les yeux. Je me suis aussi posé la question de « défenderesses » des droits humains pour defendoras (ou femmes qui défendent, ou un néologisme féministe ?) et j’ai plutôt choisi les paraphrases. Je n’aime pas cette expression ampoulée, qui fait passer pour une bizarrerie le fait que des femmes défendent quelque chose. Vous en pensez quoi, de cette expression visiblement historique elle aussi ?

    • Oui, l’euphonie tient à l’habitude. Mais défenderesse me déplaît parce que je ne comprends pas pourquoi l’usage n’a pas gardé défenseuse, plus simple, plus évident, plus symétrique avec la forme masculine. Le suffixe -esse est long, il m’évoque la manière dont il faut se déguiser pour sortir alors qu’on pourrait mettre des fringues à la con comme les gars. J’ai donc pris l’option paraphrase, comme @reka.

    • Je comprend pas ce qui t’empeiche de dire « Défenseuse » si le suffixe en -esse te va pas et que tu aime « défenseuse ». Pas de problème avec la paraphrase non plus. Les suffixes en esse ont un coté ancien régime - noblesse, papesse, philosophesse, peintresse, comptesse...
      Le dictionnaire cordiale accepte defenseuse :
      wikipédia dit que le dictionnaire de l’AF ne reconnait pas défenseuse, mais c’est une raison de plus pour s’en servir. L’AF choisissant toujours le mot ou la tournure qui va exprimer haine ou/et mépris des femmes et tout ce qui est féminin de près ou de loin.

      Sinon pour revenir à ces millitantes qui risquent la peine de mort. Je me disait qu’au moins le féminin était conservé à « militante » car il y a 5 femmes, sinon le féminin aurais disparu. Sur le e-monde en fait elles disparaissent.

      Riyad requiert la peine de mort pour cinq militants des droits de l’homme

      Parmi eux, Israa Al-Ghomgham pourrait devenir la première femme condamnée à la peine capitale pour son engagement en faveur des libertés.

      Et pour illustré ceci une photo de 5 hommes et Israa Al-Ghomgham enfant.

      Du coup c’est curieux de parler de 5 millitantes chez médiapart. D’autre part j’ai pas vu l’usage du mot féminisme, seulement « militante pour les droits de l’homme » ou « pour la liberté » en anglais les journaux vont jusqu’a osé dire parfois « militante pour les liberté des femmes » mais le mot féminisme est proscrit.

    • Merci @mad_meg, je n’avais pas fait de recherche sur défenseuse et j’en étais restée au refus de mon correcteur d’ortho. L’AF, vu que c’est pas des philologues (il y a même un biologiste qui n’a publié qu’en anglais), ils peuvent se branler la nouille avec leur dictionnaire débile qui sort une fois par siècle.

      #écriture_incluse et #invisibilisation
      C’est pas pour des raisons fantaisistes qu’on se bat pour que les femmes apparaissent dans le discours, c’est pour qu’elles apparaissent dans la réalité !

  • Kamal Nasser «  Les rêves de mon peuple  »
    L’Humanité | Mardi, 7 Août, 2018 | Joseph Andras

    (...) Kamal Nasser avait coutume de marcher dans Beyrouth un livre de poésie à la main  : cela, ils le savaient. Comme ils savaient qu’il se trouvait là, dans une chambre au troisième étage, penché sur une machine à écrire sur la table de la salle à manger, là, bel et bien là, en train de rédiger quelque communiqué. Pains de plastic. Porte explosée. Le commando s’engouffra, Nasser, pas même 50 ans, se saisit d’une arme et ouvrit le feu sur l’un des agents avant de s’écrouler tandis que ses camarades étaient abattus dans leurs chambres respectives. L’opération, dite «  Printemps de la jeunesse  », fut un franc succès pour les autorités israéliennes, soucieuses de venger la meurtrière prise d’otages des jeux Olympiques de Munich  : pour un œil, les deux yeux.

    Né Pierre Abraham Jacob Kamal Nasser un jour de 1925, le poète grandit à Bir Zeit, dans l’actuelle Cisjordanie – le village comptait alors moins de 900 âmes, chrétiennes pour la plupart –, puis étudia les sciences politiques à l’American University of Beirut et le droit à Jérusalem. Il enseigna à l’école Ahliyeh, à Ramallah, l’année de la Nakba – la «  catastrophe  », autrement dit la création de l’État d’Israël, l’expulsion de centaines de milliers de Palestiniens et la destruction de trop nombreux villages.
    L’essayiste américain Mark Ensalaco indiquera en 2011 que Nasser fut assassiné «  pour ses mots davantage que pour ses actes  », ne comptant pas au nombre des organisateurs de Munich.

    L’un de ses vers appelait à «  la révolution du retour  »  ; un demi-siècle plus tard, les présents mots s’étirent tandis que par centaines tombent à Gaza les manifestants de la Marche du même nom.

  • Les services irakiens et libanais démantèlent un réseau qui faisait chanter les banques libanaises - P.H.B. - L’Orient-Le Jour

    Les services de renseignements irakiens ont annoncé mardi avoir démantelé, en coopération avec la Sûreté générale libanaise, un réseau qui répandait des informations erronées dans le but d’extorquer des fonds à des établissements bancaires libanais. Parmi ces derniers Bank Audi, qui avait été il y a deux semaines la cible de rumeurs de blanchiment d’argent de groupes terroristes. 

    « Les services de renseignements irakiens, en coopération avec la SG libanaise, ont découvert un réseau d’escroquerie, dont les membres publiaient des informations erronées dans le but d’extorquer de l’argent à plusieurs banques libanaises, en affirmant être en possession de documents attestant qu’ils disposaient de comptes s’élevant à des millions de dollars dans ces banques et en faisant circuler de fausses informations sur ces établissements », selon le communiqué des services de renseignements irakiens. « Il s’est avéré que ces documents étaient des faux », ajoute le communiqué, selon lequel « plusieurs membres de ce réseau ont été arrêtés ». « Les efforts se poursuivent pour appréhender les autres malfaiteurs », dans le cadre de « la poursuite des efforts visant à protéger l’économie des deux pays et maintenir les relations privilégiées » entre l’Irak et le Liban, toujours selon le texte.

    Lebanese banks return Saddam’s hidden millions to Iraqi authorities - The National

    The head of Lebanon’s Association of Banks said on Thursday that the country’s financial sector had returned to Iraqi authorities nearly all money hidden in Beirut banks by officials under former dictator Saddam Hussein.

    The announcement came the day after the head of Lebanon’s General Security branch, Maj Gen Abbas Ibrahim, said that a joint operation with Iraqi authorities had prevented a $1 billion fraud scam targeting Iraqi branches of major Lebanese lenders. He announced that some suspects had been arrested.

  • The Aviationist » F-35 Stealth Aircraft Goes “Live” On Flight Tracking Websites As It Flies Mission Over Israel

    An F-35, most probably one of the Adir jets recently delivered to the Israeli Air Force, appears on deliberate action or just a case of bad OPSEC?
    On Jul. 23, an F-35 went fully visible on popular flight tracking website as it performed a mission out of Nevatim airbase. The aircraft could be monitored for about 1 hour as it went “feet wet” (over the sea) north of Gaza then flew northbound to operate near Haifa.
    As for the reasons why the aircraft could be tracked online, there are various theories. The first one is that it was a deliberate action: considered the F-35 went “live” few hours Israel made first operational use of David’s Sling missile defense system against two SS-21 Syrian ballistic missiles, there is someone who believes the mission was part of a PSYOPS aimed at threatening Israel’s enemies (Syria in particular). Our readers will probably remember the weird, most probably bogus claim of an IAF F-35 mission into the Iranian airspace originally reported by the Al-Jarida newspaper, a Kuwaiti outlet often used to deliver Israeli propaganda/PSYOPS messages.

    However the Israeli Air Force has already made public the fact that the F-35 has been used in air strikes in the Middle East (Syria and another unspecified “front”) lately. On May 23, the Israeli Air Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said during a IAF conference attended by 20 commander of air forces from around the world: “The Adir planes are already operational and flying in operational missions. We are the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity”. He also showed a photograph of an “Adir” flying at high altitude off Beirut (with radar reflectors, hence not in “stealthy mode”). In other words, there’s probably no need to remind Syria or Iran that the Israeli Air Force has the F-35 since they are already using it in combat.

    For this reason, there is also someone who believes that the first appearance of an Israeli Adir on Flightradar24 may have been a simple mistake: the Mode-S transponder was not turned off. A case of OPSEC fail in one of the most secretive air arms in the world.

    Indeed, transponders are usually turned off during real operations as well as when conducting missions that need to remain invisible (at least to public flight tracking websites and commercial off the shelf receivers). Unless the transponder is turned on for a specific purpose: to let the world know they are there. In fact, as reported several times here, it’s difficult to say whether some aircraft that can be tracked online broadcast their position for everyone to see by accident or on purpose: increasingly, RC-135s and other strategic ISR platforms, including the Global Hawks, operate over highly sensitive regions, such as Ukraine or the Korean Peninsula, with the ADS-B and Mode-S turned on, so that even commercial off the shelf receivers (or public tracking websites) can monitor them. Is it a way to show the flag? Or just a mistake?

  • With Weddings in Cyprus, Israelis and Lebanese Bridge a Divide - The New York Times

    They eat falafel, live on the Mediterranean and worry that a new war could erupt across the hostile border that separates them. But many Israelis and Lebanese share something else: a desire to circumvent their respective religious authorities when getting married.

    In both Lebanon and Israel, only religious leaders can perform marriages, so lovers who wish to keep the rabbis, sheikhs, priests and pastors out of their love life have to tie the knot elsewhere.
    Cyprus owes its rise as an international marriage destination to geography, economics and law. Its airports receive direct flights from cities across Europe and the Middle East; its prices are good; and its laws permit foreigners to contract marriages with no clerics involved.

    And its palm-studded beaches, historic sites and abundant hotels are inducements for couples to start honeymooning as soon as the ink on their marriage contract is dry.

    About 7,000 marriages are conducted in Cyprus per year, adding 1 million euros, or over $1.1 million, to the economy annually, according to the Cyprus Tourist Organization. While European lovers prefer more picturesque towns elsewhere on the island, Israelis and Lebanese tend toward Larnaka, which can be reached by air from both Tel Aviv and Beirut in less than an hour.

  • The world isn’t flat - Opinion
    The dangerous nation-state law declares the intention of its authors: To teach generations of Israeli Jews that the world is flat and entrust them with the mission of expelling and wiping out a nation

    Amira Hass
    Jul 24, 2018

    From a balcony in Ramallah, surrounded by friends and acquaintances, the nation-state law shrinks to its proper ludicrous proportions. The creationists erased a nation from the written text.
    And yet, nine indisputable representatives of that nation sat and joked, turned serious, reminisced, traded political gossip about senior Palestinian Authority officials, voiced fears and concerns, made predictions and retracted them. What a privilege it was for me to sit among them and enjoy what is so natural to them that they don’t even categorize it — a rootedness and a belonging that don’t need verbal trappings; a zest for life; unimaginable strength and courage.
    They were born in a village that was destroyed; in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip; in Damascus, Jaffa, Nablus, Ramallah, Nazareth, Acre. They’re the first, second and third generations of the 1948 refugees. Some are third-class citizens — fifth-class, now — of the state that robbed them of their homeland. Some returned to their homeland after the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 and settled down in the West Bank, subject to Israeli military orders.
    >> Planted by Netanyahu and co., nation-state law is a time bomb exploding in Israel’s face | Analysis ■ By degrading Arabic, Israel has degraded Arabs | Opinion ■ Israel’s contentious nation-state law: Everything you need to know >>
    All are members of the same nation, regardless of what is written on their identity cards. They escaped Israeli bombings in Beirut and in Gaza; they lived under Israeli-imposed curfew, siege and house arrest; they were jailed in Israeli prisons for political activity; they were interrogated by Israel’s Shin Bet security service; they raised themselves from poverty; they wandered, studied, worked in left-wing organizations.

    All of them have lost relatives and close friends, killed by Israel or in civil wars in the Arab countries where they used to live. All of them treasure the silent, pained gazes of their parents, who told them about the home that was lost 70 years ago.
    Some of them also became bourgeois. Which doesn’t spare them the checkpoints; the Israeli expressions of racism and arrogance; the forced separations from relatives who cannot go (from the Gaza Strip) or come (from Syria); the fears for the future.

    Not far, yet very far from there — under a lean-to in Khan al-Ahmar — women sit on thin mattresses placed on the ground and talk about the attack by police officers two weeks ago and a wedding party that is scheduled for this week. The strength and courage of these women from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe are equally evident. There, in those heartbreaking shelters, Israel’s greedy racism is also an immediate issue, broadcast by the spacious houses of the settlement of Kfar Adumim.
    How do they live like this, with nonstop threats and aggression from bureaucrats, soldiers, policemen and settlers who covet the little that remains to them? Where do they get the strength to live in crowded conditions that are hard to get used to, without electricity or running water — which are the minimum conditions for community life — with shrinking pasturage and shrinking income, and yet not give in to the expellers’ orders? Their strength comes from that same rootedness and natural sense of belonging, which the deniers of evolution, the drafters of the nation-state law, are incapable of understanding.
    For over a month, this community, which is threatened with a new expulsion, has been hosting mass public events — press conferences, rallies, speeches, delegations. There’s an element of exploitation and ostentation here on the Palestinian Authority’s part. Yet at the same time, another process is taking place, one that is very political: Palestinians from both urban and rural communities are liberating themselves from the alienation they used to feel toward the Bedouin.

  • Patrick Cockburn · The War in Five Sieges · LRB 19 July 2018

    The decision to defend certain areas, or to besiege them, was often determined by sectarian or ethnic allegiances. Both the government (dominated by the Shia Alawi sect) and the opposition (dominated by Sunni Arabs) would play down the fact, but divisions between communities were at the heart of the Syrian civil war. These divisions decided the location of the military frontlines that snaked through Damascus and Homs, much as they had once done in Belfast and Beirut. The government-held districts were inhabited by the minority groups, Alawites, Kurds, Christians, Druze, Ismaili and Shia, which together make up about 40 per cent of the population. A businessman in Damascus told me that the weakness of the anti-Assad forces was that ‘the exiled opposition leaders have not developed a serious plan to reassure the minorities.’ Opposition enclaves were overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, though the Sunni community was itself divided between rich and poor and between rural and urban areas. Well-off secular Sunnis in government-held West Aleppo didn’t feel much sympathy for the poor, religiously minded Sunni in the rebel-held east of the city.

    #Syrie #classe #religions #environnement

  • Gaza : polémique autour d’un immeuble bombardé par l’armée israélienne
    Par RFI Publié le 16-07-2018 - Un reportage de Hassan Jaber et Guilhem Delteil

    Samedi 14 juillet 2018 a eu lieu la plus importante confrontation militaire entre les groupes armés de la bande de Gaza et l’armée israélienne depuis la fin de la dernière guerre qui les a opposés en 2014. La journée fut marquée par des dizaines de bombardements israéliens et plus d’une centaine de tirs de roquettes et d’obus de mortier palestiniens. Parmi les cibles visées par l’armée israélienne un immeuble en construction dans la ville de Gaza. Deux adolescents ont été tués. Le bâtiment est présenté par Israël comme un centre d’entraînement militaire du Hamas, le mouvement islamiste qui contrôle l’enclave palestinienne. Mais à Gaza, ces accusations sont rejetées.

    Ahmad Halis fouille les décombres de l’immeuble dont il avait la garde. A ses côtés, son collègue, Fouad Limzini, sort de sa poche un morceau d’objet calciné. « C’est un bout de l’obus qui a touché le bâtiment », assure-t-il.

    Cet immeuble encore en construction dépend de la prison voisine, dit Fouad Limzini. Et il se veut catégorique : ce n’était pas un centre d’entraînement du mouvement islamiste au pouvoir à Gaza.

    « Le Hamas n’est pas présent ici. Quand nous voyons qui que ce soit du Hamas, nous lui disons de partir. Il n’est pas autorisé à être là. »

    Daoud Shehab, le porte-parole du Jihad islamique, deuxième groupe armé de la bande de Gaza et allié du Hamas, réfute également les accusations israéliennes.

    L’idée que ce bâtiment situé à proximité de ministères et de trois universités puisse être un terrain d’entraînement militaire fait même rire Daoud Shehab.

    « C’est un lieu très central : des milliers de personnes passent autour de cet immeuble tous les jours. Si vous emmenez votre dulcinée là-bas pour l’embrasser, tout Gaza vous verra ! » (...)

    • Israel First Country to Kill Children using US-made F35 Fighters
      July 16, 2018 9:49 PM

      According to Days of Palestine, the Israeli occupation state is the first country to use the US-made F-35 fighter jet to kill people –two innocent Palestinian children in Gaza Strip.

      While America and the rest of the world’s attention was focused on the Wold Cup, Wimbledon, Trump’s visit to England, and the Stormy Daniels story, Israel unleashed the heaviest air strikes since 2014, on the besieged Gaza Strip.

      This makes Israel the first country in the world to use the new US-made F-35 fighter jets to kill people.

      Last week, the Israeli air forces also used the F-35 fighter jets to fly over Beirut, Lebanon and bombard targets inside Syria.

      According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli airstrikes, on Saturday, injured hundreds of civilians, killing two Palestinian boys Louay Khoheel , aged 16, and Amir al-Namara , also 16, who were at a public park next to an unfinished building.

      A few hours later, Amir and Louay’s parents visited the morgue to claim their bodies.

      Mahmoud el-Yousseph is a retired USAF veteran from Westerville, Ohio.

    • Israeli Air Strikes Kill Two Children, Injure 25 Palestinians, In Gaza
      July 15, 2018 12:56 AM IMEMC News

      The Israeli Airforce carried out, on Saturday evening, several airstrikes targeting Gaza, killing two children and wounding at least twenty-five Palestinians in Gaza city, when the missiles struck a building next to a public green park, filled with people.

      The Health Ministry in Gaza said the Israeli missiles killed Amir an-Nimra, 15 , and his friend Luay Kahil, 16 , in addition to causing injuries to at least 25 other Palestinians.

      It added that the Israeli missiles also targeted ambulances, the Central Medical Emergency building, and several mobile clinics.

      The targeted public square, known as al-Kateeba, is near al-Azhar and the Islamic Universities, and is surrounded by several government ministries and facilities. It is also used by Palestinian factions when they celebrate certain events, such as the anniversaries of their establishment.

      #Palestine_assassinée #GAZA

    • Gaza : funérailles des deux victimes des frappes israéliennes
      Publié le 15-07-2018

      Un certain calme est revenu dans la bande de Gaza, ce dimanche 15 juillet 2018. Avec des dizaines de bombardements israéliens et plus d’une centaine de roquettes et d’obus de mortiers tirés depuis l’enclave palestinienne, samedi fut la journée la plus violente depuis la fin de la dernière guerre en 2014. Deux adolescents palestiniens ont été tués dans le bombardement d’un immeuble en construction dans la ville de Gaza. Et ce dimanche, les Gazaouis ont rendu un dernier hommage à ceux qu’ils qualifient de « martyrs ».

      Avec notre envoyé spécial à Gaza City, Guilhem Delteil

  • How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria

    Sunnis have been pushed out by the war. The new Syria is smaller, in ruins and more sectarian.

    A NEW Syria is emerging from the rubble of war. In Homs, which Syrians once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad, the Muslim quarter and commercial district still lie in ruins, but the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven”, proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. In their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr Assad for saving one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

    Homs, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria’s victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Mr Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities. Sunni civilians, once a large majority, followed. More than half of the country’s population of 22m has been displaced—6.5m inside Syria and over 6m abroad. Most are Sunnis.

    The authorities seem intent on maintaining the new demography. Four years after the government regained Homs, residents still need a security clearance to return and rebuild their homes. Few Sunnis get one. Those that do have little money to restart their lives. Some attend Christian mass, hoping for charity or a visa to the West from bishops with foreign connections. Even these Sunnis fall under suspicion. “We lived so well before,” says a Christian teacher in Homs. “But how can you live with a neighbour who overnight called you a kafir (infidel)?”

    Even in areas less touched by the war, Syria is changing. The old city of Damascus, Syria’s capital, is an architectural testament to Sunni Islam. But the Iranian-backed Shia militias that fight for Mr Assad have expanded the city’s Shia quarter into Sunni and Jewish areas. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shia militia, hang from Sunni mosques. Advertisements for Shia pilgrimages line the walls. In the capital’s new cafés revellers barely notice the jets overhead, bombing rebel-held suburbs. “I love those sounds,” says a Christian woman who works for the UN. Like other regime loyalists, she wants to see the “terrorists” punished.

    Mr Assad’s men captured the last rebel strongholds around Damascus in May. He now controls Syria’s spine, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south—what French colonisers once called la Syrie utile (useful Syria). The rebels are confined to pockets along the southern and northern borders (see map). Lately the government has attacked them in the south-western province of Deraa.

    A prize of ruins

    The regime is in a celebratory mood. Though thinly spread, it has survived the war largely intact. Government departments are functioning. In areas that remained under Mr Assad’s control, electricity and water supplies are more reliable than in much of the Middle East. Officials predict that next year’s natural-gas production will surpass pre-war levels. The National Museum in Damascus, which locked up its prized antiquities for protection, is preparing to reopen to the public. The railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations this summer.

    To mark national day on April 17th, the ancient citadel of Aleppo hosted a festival for the first time since the war began. Martial bands, dancing girls, children’s choirs and a Swiss opera singer (of Syrian origin) crowded onto the stage. “God, Syria and Bashar alone,” roared the flag-waving crowd, as video screens showed the battle to retake the city. Below the citadel, the ruins stretch to the horizon.

    Mr Assad (pictured) has been winning the war by garrisoning city centres, then shooting outward into rebel-held suburbs. On the highway from Damascus to Aleppo, towns and villages lie desolate. A new stratum of dead cities has joined the ones from Roman times. The regime has neither the money nor the manpower to rebuild. Before the war Syria’s economic growth approached double digits and annual GDP was $60bn. Now the economy is shrinking; GDP was $12bn last year. Estimates of the cost of reconstruction run to $250bn.

    Syrians are experienced construction workers. When Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990, they helped rebuild Beirut. But no such workforce is available today. In Damascus University’s civil-engineering department, two-thirds of the lecturers have fled. “The best were first to go,” says one who stayed behind. Students followed them. Those that remain have taken to speaking Araglish, a hotch-potch of Arabic and English, as many plan futures abroad.

    Traffic flows lightly along once-jammed roads in Aleppo, despite the checkpoints. Its pre-war population of 3.2m has shrunk to under 2m. Other cities have also emptied out. Men left first, many fleeing the draft and their likely dispatch to the front. As in Europe after the first world war, Syria’s workforce is now dominated by women. They account for over three-quarters of the staff in the religious-affairs ministry, a hitherto male preserve, says the minister. There are female plumbers, taxi-drivers and bartenders.

    Millions of Syrians who stayed behind have been maimed or traumatised. Almost everyone your correspondent spoke to had buried a close relative. Psychologists warn of societal breakdown. As the war separates families, divorce rates soar. More children are begging in the streets. When the jihadists retreat, liquor stores are the first to reopen.

    Mr Assad, though, seems focused less on recovery than rewarding loyalists with property left behind by Sunnis. He has distributed thousands of empty homes to Shia militiamen. “Terrorists should forfeit their assets,” says a Christian businesswoman, who was given a plush café that belonged to the family of a Sunni defector. A new decree, called Law 10, legitimises the government’s seizure of such assets. Title-holders will forfeit their property if they fail to re-register it, a tough task for the millions who have fled the country.

    A Palestinian-like problem

    The measure has yet to be implemented, but refugees compare it to Israel’s absentees’ property laws, which allow the government to take the property of Palestinian refugees. Syrian officials, of course, bridle at such comparisons. The ruling Baath party claims to represent all of Syria’s religions and sects. The country has been led by Alawites since 1966, but Sunnis held senior positions in government, the armed forces and business. Even today many Sunnis prefer Mr Assad’s secular rule to that of Islamist rebels.

    But since pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011, Syrians detect a more sectarian approach to policymaking. The first demonstrations attracted hundreds of thousands of people of different faiths. So the regime stoked sectarian tensions to divide the opposition. Sunnis, it warned, really wanted winner-take-all majoritarianism. Jihadists were released from prison in order to taint the uprising. As the government turned violent, so did the protesters. Sunni states, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, provided them with arms, cash and preachers. Hardliners pushed aside moderates. By the end of 2011, the protests had degenerated into a sectarian civil war.

    Early on, minorities lowered their profile to avoid being targeted. Women donned headscarves. Non-Muslim businessmen bowed to demands from Sunni employees for prayer rooms. But as the war swung their way, minorities regained their confidence. Alawite soldiers now flex arms tattooed with Imam Ali, whom they consider the first imam after the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnis see things differently). Christian women in Aleppo show their cleavage. “We would never ask about someone’s religion,” says an official in Damascus. “Sorry to say, we now do.”

    The country’s chief mufti is a Sunni, but there are fewer Sunnis serving in top posts since the revolution. Last summer Mr Assad replaced the Sunni speaker of parliament with a Christian. In January he broke with tradition by appointing an Alawite, instead of a Sunni, as defence minister.

    Officially the government welcomes the return of displaced Syrians, regardless of their religion or sect. “Those whose hands are not stained with blood will be forgiven,” says a Sunni minister. Around 21,000 families have returned to Homs in the last two years, according to its governor, Talal al-Barazi. But across the country, the number of displaced Syrians is rising. Already this year 920,000 people have left their homes, says the UN. Another 45,000 have fled the recent fighting in Deraa. Millions more may follow if the regime tries to retake other rebel enclaves.

    When the regime took Ghouta, in eastern Damascus, earlier this year its 400,000 residents were given a choice between leaving for rebel-held areas in the north or accepting a government offer of shelter. The latter was a euphemism for internment. Tens of thousands remain “captured” in camps, says the UN. “We swapped a large prison for a smaller one,” says Hamdan, who lives with his family in a camp in Adra, on the edge of Ghouta. They sleep under a tarpaulin in a schoolyard with two other families. Armed guards stand at the gates, penning more than 5,000 people inside.

    The head of the camp, a Christian officer, says inmates can leave once their security clearance is processed, but he does not know how long that will take. Returning home requires a second vetting. Trapped and powerless, Hamdan worries that the regime or its supporters will steal his harvest—and then his land. Refugees fear that they will be locked out of their homeland altogether. “We’re the new Palestinians,” says Taher Qabar, one of 350,000 Syrians camped in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

    Some argue that Mr Assad, with fewer Sunnis to fear, may relax his repressive rule. Ministers in Damascus insist that change is inevitable. They point to a change in the constitution made in 2012 that nominally allows for multiparty politics. There are a few hopeful signs. Local associations, once banned, offer vocational training to the displaced. State media remain Orwellian, but the internet is unrestricted and social-media apps allow for unfettered communication. Students in cafés openly criticise the regime. Why doesn’t Mr Assad send his son, Hafez, to the front, sneers a student who has failed his university exams to prolong his studies and avoid conscription.

    A decade ago Mr Assad toyed with infitah (liberalisation), only for Sunni extremists to build huge mosques from which to spout their hate-speech, say his advisers. He is loth to repeat the mistake. Portraits of the president, appearing to listen keenly with a slightly oversized ear, now line Syria’s roads and hang in most offices and shops. Checkpoints, introduced as a counter-insurgency measure, control movement as never before. Men under the age of 42 are told to hand over cash or be sent to the front. So rife are the levies that diplomats speak of a “checkpoint economy”.

    Having resisted pressure to compromise when he was losing, Mr Assad sees no reason to make concessions now. He has torpedoed proposals for a political process, promoted by UN mediators and his Russian allies, that would include the Sunni opposition. At talks in Sochi in January he diluted plans for a constitutional committee, insisting that it be only consultative and based in Damascus. His advisers use the buzzwords of “reconciliation” and “amnesty” as euphemisms for surrender and security checks. He has yet to outline a plan for reconstruction.

    War, who is it good for?

    Mr Assad appears to be growing tired of his allies. Iran has resisted Russia’s call for foreign forces to leave Syria. It refuses to relinquish command of 80,000 foreign Shia militiamen. Skirmishes between the militias and Syrian troops have resulted in scores of deaths, according to researchers at King’s College in London. Having defeated Sunni Islamists, army officers say they have no wish to succumb to Shia ones. Alawites, in particular, flinch at Shia evangelising. “We don’t pray, don’t fast [during Ramadan] and drink alcohol,” says one.

    But Mr Assad still needs his backers. Though he rules most of the population, about 40% of Syria’s territory lies beyond his control. Foreign powers dominate the border areas, blocking trade corridors and the regime’s access to oilfields. In the north-west, Turkish forces provide some protection for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group linked to al-Qaeda, and other Sunni rebels. American and French officers oversee a Kurdish-led force east of the Euphrates river. Sunni rebels abutting the Golan Heights offer Israel and Jordan a buffer. In theory the territory is classified as a “de-escalation zone”. But violence in the zone is escalating again.

    New offensives by the regime risk pulling foreign powers deeper into the conflict. Turkey, Israel and America have drawn red lines around the rebels under their protection. Continuing Iranian operations in Syria “would be the end of [Mr Assad], his regime”, said Yuval Steinitz, a minister in Israel, which has bombed Iranian bases in the country. Israel may be giving the regime a green light in Deraa, in order to keep the Iranians out of the area.

    There could be worse options than war for Mr Assad. More fighting would create fresh opportunities to reward loyalists and tilt Syria’s demography to his liking. Neighbours, such as Jordan and Lebanon, and European countries might indulge the dictator rather than face a fresh wave of refugees. Above all, war delays the day Mr Assad has to face the question of how he plans to rebuild the country that he has so wantonly destroyed.
    #Syrie #démographie #sunnites #sciites #chrétiens #religion #minorités

    • Onze ans plus tard, on continue à tenter de donner un peu de crédibilité à la fable d’une guerre entre « sunnites » et « minoritaires » quand la moindre connaissance directe de ce pays montre qu’une grande partie des « sunnites » continue, pour de bonnes ou de mauvaises raisons, mais ce sont les leurs, à soutenir leur président. Par ailleurs, tout le monde est prié désormais par les syriologues de ne se déterminer que par rapport à son origine sectaire (au contraire de ce qu’on nous affirmait du reste au début de la « révolution »)...

  • Syrians in Golan Heights to boycott municipal election by Israel | Golan Heights
    Al Jazeera | by Nour Samaha | 21 juin 2018

    Beirut, Lebanon: Thousands of Syrian residents of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are expected to boycott the first municipal elections imposed by Israel on the area, rejecting what they call the ’Israelization’ of the territory.

    Following a decision handed down by Israel’s supreme court last year to hold, for the first time ever, municipal elections in October 2018 for the occupied Golan’s 26,000 Syrian residents, local religious leaders and village elders are calling for a full rejection of the elections, calling it a “red line.” (...)

  • Israeli army frames slain medic Razan al-Najjar as “Hamas human shield”
    Jonathan Ofir on June 7, 2018

    Just when you thought Israel couldn’t get any lower… The Israeli army has just released an incitement video, titled “Hamas’ use of human shields must stop”, in which it frames the slain medic Razan al-Najjar as a “Hamas human shield”– a day after it claimed she was killed by accident.

    This is more than adding insult to injury. This is adding malice to crime.

    The propaganda effort is based on twisting al-Najjar’s own words. I have consulted with three Arabic experts, who have looked at the original Arabic interview from which the IDF took the “human shield” text, and it is clear to them beyond a doubt that the IDF was knowingly and cynically manipulating Razan’s words to mean something other than what she said.

    Bear with me, this requires close analysis:

    First the video features Razan throwing away a gas grenade in the field. Obviously, this is one of the tear gas grenades fired by the Israeli army, which she is taking up and throwing to a safe distance. By this visual, the IDF is trying to create the impression that Razan is a kind of ‘combatant’.

    Then comes the short clip from an interview. The original interview has been found to be from Al Mayadeen News, a channel based in Beirut. The IDF video runs subtitles, saying: “I am Razan al-Najjar, I am here on the frontlines and I act as a human shield…”

    That’s all the IDF needs. Now, with the ominous music in the background, the IDF text states:

    “Hamas uses paramedics as human shields”.

    But the IDF cut out a very significant part of the sentence. Razan actually says:

    “I the Paramedic Razan al-Najjar, I am here on the Front Line acting as a human shield of safety to protect the injured at the Front Line. No one encouraged me on being a Paramedic, I encouraged myself. I wanted to take chances and help people…” (my emphasis).(...)

    #Propagande #sansvergogne

  • Defying the gaze of others in Abu Bakr Shawky’s Yomeddine |
    Adham Youssef
    June 1, 2018

    After finishing my interview with director Abu Bakr Shawky and producer Dina Emam at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, I move to my next scheduled meeting — a group discussion with a Kenyan director about her film, which is screening in the Un Certain Regard competition. Shawky is conducting an interview with a foreign journalist nearby, and I can’t help but overhear their conversation. The reporter asks him about the “political and religious messages” behind his debut feature and Palme d’Or contender, Yomeddine (2018).

    Later, when I meet with Shawky again, I ask him to comment on that question. “Wherever there is a good story I will go,” he says. “There is an expectation  from Middle Eastern films that they have to be about politics and religion, but I don’t want to do that anymore. Not because they are irrelevant, but I watch films from the United States, Europe and Asia that are not political, and I like them. So why can’t a Middle Eastern film not be political in the traditional sense and still be considered enjoyable and significant?”

    There were three other Arabic-language films in Cannes this year; Nadine Labaki’s Cafarnaüm (2018), a Lebanese drama about poor children and migrants in the informal housing areas of Beirut; Gaya Jiji’s My Favourite Fabric (2018), a film that tackles female sexuality and the Syrian revolution (guaranteed to be a hit with Western audiences); and Sofia, Meryem BenMbarek’s story about premarital pregnancy in Morocco. Yomeddine stood out among them as a different narrative that is placed within a specific context, yet is universally appealing and relatable nonetheless.

    • U.S. Ambassador Dean Ambushed in Lebanon, Escapes Attack Unhurt - The Washington Post


      U.S. Ambassador John Gunther Dean escaped unharmed tonight after gunmen in a speeding Mercedes attacked his bulletproof limousine as he was leaving his Hazmieh residence in a convoy.

      The ensuing battle between the ambasador’s bodyguards and the gunmen left the embassy car demolished on the passenger side, with window glass shattered and tires flat, embassy sources said.

      Later this evening, Dean appeared at the gate of the embassy and waved to bystanders but refused to make a statement on the incident. He showed no signs of injury. [The Associate Press, quoting security sources, said Dean’s wife Martine and daughter Catherine also were unharmed.]

      It was the first attempt on an American ambassador’s life in Lebanon since June 16, 1976, when ambassador Francis E. Eloy, economic counselor Robert O. Waring and their chauffeur were kidnaped and killed on their way from West Beirut to East Beirut during the civil war.

      [Several hours after the attack on Dean, gunmen with automatic rifles dragged the Spanish ambassador and his wife from their car and drove away in the embasy vehicle. Ambassador Luis Jordana Pozas told the Associated Press. Jordana said five men pushed them from the car in mostly Moslem West Beirut. There was no indication whether the theft of Jordana’s car was related to the attack on the American diplomat.]

      Today’s attack came just hours after Dean said the United States was working with Israel and the United Nations to end the violence among Christian militiamen and Palestinian guerrillas in southern Lebanon. It was his first public statement since Aug. 21, when he created an uproar by condemning an Israeli raid on Palestinian guerilla strongholds in the area. The U.S. State Department later disavowed the statement.

      There were conflicting reports about the kind of explosive that was aimed at the ambassador’s car. Some local radio stations said it was a rocket, while others said it was a rifle grenade. None of the reports could be confirmed.

      The shooting took place as Dean was driving to Beirut. Excited security guards outside the U.S. Embassy told reporters that a spurt of machine-gun fire followed the explosion.

      The attackers, who abandoned their car, fled into the woods on the side of the highway, Beirut’s official radio said.

      Lebanese Army troops and internal security forces were quickly moved to the ambush site and an all-night search was begun to track down the would-be killers. Reliable police sources said two Lebanese suspected of being linked to the assassination attermpt were taken in for questioning.

      Following a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Fuad Butros today, Dean stressed that "American policy includes opposition to all acts of violence which ignore or violate the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel.

    • The remarkable disappearing act of Israel’s car-bombing campaign in Lebanon or : What we (do not) talk about when we talk about ’terrorism’
      Rémi Brulin, MondoWeiss, le 7 mai 2018

      La remarquable occultation de la campagne israélienne d’attentats à la voiture piégée au Liban ou : Ce dont nous (ne) parlons (pas) quand nous parlons de terrorisme
      Rémi Brulin, MondoWeiss, le 7 mai 2018

    • Inside Intel / Assassination by proxy - Haaretz - Israel News |

      Haaretz 2009,

      Did Israel try to kill the U.S. ambassador in Lebanon in the early 1980s?Haggai Hadas’ experience is not necessarily an advantage in the talks over Gilad Shalit’s release The Israeli intelligence community has committed quite a number of crimes against the United States during its 60-year lifetime. In the early 1950s it recruited agents from among Arab officers serving in Washington (with the help of military attache Chaim Herzog). In the 1960s it stole uranium through Rafi Eitan and the Scientific Liaison Bureau in what came to be known as the Apollo Affair, when uranium was smuggled to Israel from Dr. Zalman Shapira’s Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation - in Apollo, Pennsylvania). In the 1980s it operated spies (Jonathan Pollard and Ben-Ami Kadish), and used businessmen (such as Arnon Milchan) to steal secrets, technology and equipment for its nuclear program and other purposes.

      Now the Israeli government is being accused of attempted murder. John Gunther Dean, a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, claims in a memoir released last week that Israeli intelligence agents attempted to assassinate him. Dean was born in 1926 in Breslau, Germany (today Wroclaw, Poland), as John Gunther Dienstfertig. His father was a Jewish lawyer who described himself as a German citizen of the Jewish religion who is not a Zionist. The family immigrated to the U.S. before World War II. As an adult Dean joined the State Department and served as a diplomat in Vietnam, Afghanistan and India, among other states.

    • Remi Brulin on Twitter: “Shlomo Ilya was, in the early 1980s, the head of the IDF liaison unit in Lebanon. He is also (in)famous for declaring, at the time, that he only weapon against terrorism is terrorism, and that Israel had options for ‘speaking the language the terrorists understand.’

  • L’armée israélienne montre avec fierté un F-35 survolant Beyrouth. (Je te rappelle qu’il suffit pour un Libanais d’approcher la frontière israélienne avec des moutons pour être traité de terroriste. L’armée israélienne se montrant en train de survoler la capitale du Liban, en revanche…)

    Pictures of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying over Beirut were shown on the Wednesday night broadcast of Israel Television News.

    On Tuesday, Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said Israel is the first country in the world to carry out an “operational attack” with the F-35 jet. Norkin was speaking at a three-day conference organized by the IAF in Herzliya, to which senior officers from air forces from all over the world were invited.

    The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the military was not behind the release of the pictures and they were not intended for publication.

    At the conference, Norkin presented images of the F-35 in the skies over Beirut and said that the stealth fighter did not participate in the most recent strike in Syria, but did in two previous attacks.

  • Still too ‘tough on Arabs’ - Haaretz Editorial - Israel News |
    Police violence against the Arab community in Israel appears part of a racist policy led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government

    Haaretz Editorial May 21, 2018

    Over the weekend there was a demonstration in Haifa protesting the killings along the Gaza border fence. The violent suppression of this protest and the detention of 21 demonstrators, including Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center that advocates for Israeli Arabs’ rights, are a further sign of the growing restrictions on the democratic space available to this community.
    The harsh events in Gaza should have brought multitudes out onto the streets, particularly in light of the complexities plaguing relations between Arab citizens and the state. In practice, the protest in Arab society was minor and measured: a partial strike lasting only a day and local protest gatherings. Despite this, the police failed to contain the demonstrations.
    True, the protest in Haifa on Friday evening had no permit, but these are precisely the times when the police must use their discretion and show restraint. They should have used the presence of Farah, a veteran activist who once headed the Arab student union and who for years has been a partner to civic initiatives for Arab civil rights and against racism. A wise police force would have seen his presence as a channel for dialogue and an opportunity for calming tensions. Instead, the police used him to quell the protest.
    In footage taken at the demonstration one sees that the police did not suffice with arresting him but marched him handcuffed through Haifa’s streets as a warning to others. Even though Farah was seen walking, he was hospitalized the next day; relatives said one of his knees had been broken in detention.
    The Arab community is calling for an investigation into the police’s conduct in the demonstration, and the police are expected to carry out an internal probe into the Farah case. But this doesn’t suffice; the violence by the police against Arab protesters appears not random but intentional, part of an inflammatory and racist policy against the Arab community in Israel that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is leading.
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    Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich talk a lot about the importance of making police services more accessible to the Arab community, using every public platform to announce the opening of new police stations and the recruitment of Arab police officers. But the conduct in Haifa shows yet again that the police showed unwarranted “resolve” while ignoring the ramifications on the Arab community’s faith in law enforcement.
    The Public Security Ministry and police brass must understand that the delegitimization of elected Arab officials and prominent Arab activists, as well as the suppression of any political protest by brutal arrests, won’t contribute to a sense of trust. On the contrary, police violence against Arab citizens widens the circle of mutual suspicion and deepens this community’s alienation.

    • By +972 Blog |Published May 21, 2018
      ’Police broke my knee, threatened my doctors,’ Arab civil society leader tells court
      By Oren Ziv, Yael Marom, and Meron Rapaport

      Seven require medical treatment for injuries sustained during their arrests or while in custody, including Jafar Farah, who says an officer broke his knee inside the police station. Police file criminal complaint against Arab MK Ayman Odeh for calling the officers who refused to let him visit a hospitalized protester ‘losers’.
      “But we shouldn’t be surprised by police violence and this isn’t that big a story,” Atrash continued. “What are a few punches compared to the murder of children in Gaza? What’s important is that all of us in Haifa, Gaza, Ramallah or Beirut — we are one. We don’t want nicer police officers, we want the apartheid regime to end.”
      ”The demonstration on Friday was the third to take place in Haifa last week, and police had already employed aggressive tactics to try to shut them down. In addition to several arrests at the protests themselves, police arrested and detained a number of Palestinian and Jewish activists in Haifa to deter them from participating in and organizing protests.


  • Saudi Arabia Detains Activists Who Pushed to End Ban on Women Driving
    By Ben Hubbard
    May 18, 2018

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia has detained at least five people connected to the campaign to end the kingdom’s longtime ban on women driving, despite the fact that the government has promised to lift the ban next month, associates of the detainees said on Friday.

    The Saudi government has billed the lifting of the driving ban as part of a reform push spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The changes have also included curtailing the powers of the religious authorities and expanding the entertainment options available in the conservative kingdom.

    But those efforts have coincided with waves of arrests that have scooped up clerics, businessmen, members of the royal family and activists who have a history of challenging the government’s positions. Many of them have not been officially charged with crimes despite having been held for months.

    The Saudi government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new detentions, and it remained unclear whether those detained had been charged with anything.

    #réformes #MBS #arabie_saoudite