Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Troubling Case of Saif Gadhafi


EVER SINCE THE ICC PROSECUTOR CLAIMED MUAMMAR GADDAFI HAD TAKEN PART TO US CLINTON/RICE INVENTED VIAGRA RAPES I GAVE HIM THE TITLE OF "FOOL" AND I ALWAYS CALL HIM "OCAMPO THE FOOL". WELL THEN, FROM NOW ON I'LL SAY THAT HE IS A PIG AND A FOOL! (Disclaimer: Pigs shouldn't feel concerned, as they are after all good people, certainly far better than humans such as Ocampo the Pig and the Fool!!!)
ICC Prosecutor’s Career Move Switches Horses and Legal Theories in Libya

The Troubling Case of Saif Gadhafi


A CounterPunch Exclusive

Zintan, Libya

Despite the claims of the National Transitional Council of Libya (NTC)  that  Saif al Islam Gadhafi, the apprehended subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant that ordered his transport to The Hague, is in a secure hidden location near Zintan, Libya, a town approximately 85 miles southwest of Tripoli, this is not the case.

Neither are the assurances by Steven Anderson, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who on 11/23/11 announced that Saif al-Islam’s injuries had been “taken care of,” nor his profuse assurances that Saif is in good health.  In point of fact, following the ICRC assurances, the Ukrainian-born Doctor Andrei Murakhovsky who lives in Zintan reported that “Saif’s wound is covered with gangrenous tissue and necrotic tissue.”  He added that “This wound is not in good condition and requires amputation. His index finger has been ripped off at the level of the middle phalange (finger bone), the bones are all shattered. It’s the same thing with the thumb of that hand.” Dr. Murakhovsky told the Reuters news service.

The morning of 11/24/11, Libyan NTC Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib still insisted that “Saif al-Islam is receiving the best possible treatment, but for now he is not in the hands of the provisional central government and we don’t know where he is.”

Regarding Saif al Islam’s “secure and hidden location”, most people in the village of Zintan know where he is being held, as does this observer who visited a motley group of B-western movie types who are currently guarding and “protecting” Saif.

Although armed with a Power of Attorney from one of Saif’s family members to visit him, the group refused my request to visit Saif with the excuse that they had to consult their commander who was not expected to return for a few days since he was now the new NTC Libyan Defense Minister.

On the question of Saif’s health, there is increasing concern also because his guards claim they cannot take him to Zintan’s only hospital because someone would likely kill him in order to collect on the substantial rumored Qatar/NATO  offered  cash reward for whoever assassinates him thus presumably helping “the new Libya” and its allies  avoid a messy trial.

Meanwhile, after what he claims in a change of heart, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, now professes that Libya, not The Hague, is the best place after all for Saif al Islam and his trial. Since its establishment by the United Nations in 2002, the ICC has had just one Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. To the reported expressed relief of many international defense lawyers, several ICC staff and ICC judges, plus legal commentators familiar with his prosecutorial work, the ICC will have his successor chosen next month in New York.  This coming weekend in New York, the legal defense organization, Avocats Sans Frontiers (ASF, ie Lawyers Without Borders) will meet in order to try to agree on a successor to propose to the 18 ICC Judges who will decide.

Prosecutor Ocampo’s visit this week to Libya caused some raised eyebrows among the groups noted above when he suddenly announced that the ICC would not invoke its UN Security Council-granted power and proceed with Case # ICC 01/11. This case was opened at the ICC on March 3, 2011, having been assigned to the ICC by the UN Security Council following the preceding month’s uprising in Benghazi, Libya.

Speculation among some in The Hague, in Libya and from ASF lawyers is that knowing that he would not be re-elected for another term as ICC Prosecutor, due to among other reasons he has not won one case during his 9 year term, has repeatedly incurred the wrath of ICC judges for bringing cases which they ruled lacked sufficient evidence and his penchant for self-aggrandizing publicity and making inaccurate claims about cases and defendants that border on judicial misconduct, Ocampo decided to switch horses.

One egregious example of his making false representations is the current ICC case involving Saif al-Islam Gadhafi in which Ocampo made several inaccurate headline-grabbing statements over the past several weeks claiming to be negotiating “indirectly” with Saif al Islam to give himself up to the ICC. Saif has emphatically denied Ocampo’s grandstanding claims and presumably, were Ocampo to attempt to personally prosecute his case Saif’s legal team would immediately file a motion to replace Ocampo for cause, as provided by ICC rules.

Given these problems, Ocampo, according to someone who accompanied him during his visit this week to Libya, decided to accept a lucrative offer from the NTC to advise the oil-rich country on setting up a legal system to try Saif al Islam and others.

The assurances by Moreno-Ocampo, NATO officials and American UN Ambassador Susan Rice that Libya is currently fully capable of currently handling trials of former regime loyalists are nonsense. Rice exhibited ignorance and surprise here last weekend when she claimed not to know that Libya had the death penalty and would apply the death penalty in the ICC case if given the chance.  The Libyan public’s apparent preference is for the death penalty by hanging in the two Libya ICC cases. This was the case with Rwanda, which is one reason the Ruanda Tribunal did not allow the government of Rwanda to conduct certain trials even though that government assured the UN it would not actually carry out a death penalty sentence. Libya has offered no such assurances to the ICC against the use of the death penalty nor has it submitted a legal challenge to ICC jurisdiction over the Saif al Islam or Abdullah Sanussi cases, as the Rome Statute requires.

Despite switching jobs, Ocampo has not lost interest in prosecuting the Saif al Islam case which he views as his best chance of finally winning at least an ICC related case, but not at The Hague where there is the possibility that Saif could be convicted, given Court rules of procedure and ICC legal staff resources that would actually assist an accused in presenting his defense before the court.  Ocampo is said to be betting on gaining a victory in Saif’s high profile case by working with the NATO-created NTC government in Libya and running the prosecution as a behind the scenes “consultant” and helping Libya’s NTC keep the UN and ICC at bay while allowing the NTC to try both Saif’s case and that of Abdullah Sanussi if and when the latter is proven to have been captured.  Ocampo is said to relish the job of becoming the “Father of Libya’s new legal system.”  Ocampo is now explaining that it was never his role “to tell Libyan officials how to hold a fair trial and the  standard of the ICC is that it has to be a judicial process that is not organized to shield the suspect and I respect that it’s important for the cases to be tried in Libya.”  He then added, “There are so many different traditions, it is difficult to say what is fair.”

No sooner had the surprising news and Ocampo’s sudden vagueness about what constitutes a fair trial begun to ricochet around the Internet than this observer received an email from an international criminal lawyer whose office is two blocks from the Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, DC. The American lawyer was appalled: “Paying Ocampo as a consultant for the new Libyan government on criminal trial procedures is a ridiculous thought/idea.  He has no idea of fair trial rights and has not achieved a conviction in his nearly 9 years at the ICC.”

Nor were the ICC judges  thrilled at the perceived betrayal.  The ICC quickly fired off a reminder to Ocampo, to the new Libyan government and the media that it is the ICC judges, and not the ICC Prosecutor, who will decide whether a case will be held in The Hague or if the country where the alleged crimes occurred  and only they will decide if Libya has the ability to conduct a fair trial. The ICC is signaling that the Ocampo-generated international headlines to the contrary notwithstanding, the issue of trial venue in Libya has not settled in ICC case # 01/11.

Prosecutor Ocampo knows well that once the ICC decides to open an investigation of a case, national courts may not investigate that case and are relieved from their obligation to do so. In addition, since the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Libyan defendants, all states – including Libya – are obliged to cooperate fully with the Court. 

Following  the public dressing down from The Hague, Ocampo  has now retreated a bit and told CNN on 11/23/11 that: “ The only condition is the new Libyan government has to present their position to the International Criminal Court judges and the judges will decide if the case can be prosecuted in Libya. Libya will present evidence to ICC judges that the country can hold the trial, and the judges will decide if they are satisfied,”  Ocampo explained.

The ICC, if it takes up the question as expected, should rule in the developing Saif al Islam case, precisely as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found in ruling against that country’s request for  trial jurisdiction,  although like Libya today, Rwanda claimed to have “modern functioning court system.”   The reason is that an initial review of Libya’s criminal judicial system and discussion with Libyan criminal defense lawyers as well as with  international criminal defense lawyers with years of experience in international tribunals’ practice, shows that it is very clear that persons accused of serious crimes in Libya currently do not have even the most minimal judicial rights that are required by international norms. Today  Libya defendants do not enjoy adequate legal representation, financial support for indigent accused, travel and investigation support for defense teams, security for defense teams. Libya’s central and local governments place impediments curtailing defense teams in the discharge of their functions.

An admittedly cursory inquiry in Libya among lawyers here also reveal nonexistent or inadequate accommodation and transport arrangements for witness, as well as a lack of arrangements for protection of witnesses before, during and after testifying in court. In addition, the NTC is engaging in a pattern of threatening  potential witnesses preparing to testify against NATO in another case. Similarly the NTC is failing to provide safe and secure travel for Libyan witnesses living abroad, including in Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, and Egypt. Interviews with Libyan lawyers and officials as well as visits to detention facilities in Libya reveal that conditions are not in compliance with international standards and that there is widespread torture of prisoners in Libya and threats against the families of prisoners.

Franklin Lamb is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com


Thousands imprisoned in Libya without due legal process - UN

­Libya`s former rebels are holding about 7,000 people in prison without due legal process, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported on Wednesday. The UN chief’s report said that the rights of many of those imprisoned are being severely violated. He referred to reports of detainees being tortured, of women held under male supervision without female guards, and children being detained alongside adults. Many people have been targeted because of their skin color. Ban pointed out that most courts in Libya are currently "not fully operational" due to lack of security and absenteeism by judges and administrative staff. He urged Libyans to respect human rights and refrain from revenge.


Libya leaders supported by "money, arms, PR"- ex-premier

Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:08pm GMT

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - One of the most senior figures in Libya's outgoing government has denounced its leaders as an unelected elite, supported by "money, arms and PR," and warned that 90 percent of Libya is politically voiceless.

Outgoing acting Prime Minister Ali Tarhouni's comments were the strongest criticism to date by a senior politician of the country's new rulers, who led the rebellion that ended Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule and have been in charge since his fall.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) also had a say in Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib's provisional government line-up, which was announced on Tuesday and mandated to steer the country towards democracy.

"The voices that we see now are the voices of the elite, the voices of the NTC who are not elected and the voices of other people who are supported by the outside by money, arms and PR," Tarhouni said on Thursday, hours after a new cabinet was formed.

"It's about time we heard the true voices of the masses ... we need to start rebuilding this democratic constitutional movement," he told a news conference.

Tarhouni was in charge of the oil and finance portfolios in Libya's outgoing transitional government and briefly served as acting prime minister until Thursday, when a new cabinet was sworn in.

Having been a frontrunner for a post as finance minister in Keib's cabinet until the eleventh hour, Tarhouni said he had been asked to join but declined due to the challenges of the transitional period and because he wanted to speak freely.

"I see danger for the sovereignty of Libya. I see a threat for the wealth of the Libyan people," Tarhouni told reporters, without elaborating.

"I see the economic issues as a major challenge," he added.


Tarhouni said that NTC had "failed miserably" in melding the myriad armed militias that still roam the country into an official national army.

Listing the many security and economic challenges that lie ahead for a nascent government as the country emerges from a bloody civil war, he said the safety of oil installations was a critical issue.

"My hope that the new government will take this issue seriously," he said.

However, Tarhouni repeatedly wished the new line up "success" and said "they should be given a chance."

On Tuesday, the NTC named a cabinet favouring appointees who will soothe rivalries between regional factions, but specific groups, including the Amazigh, or Berber, have boycotted the new government complaining of the lack of representation.

(Editing by Sophie Hares) 

Signs of resistance to NATO-installed government in Libya

Chaos reigns, human rights violations abound

November 26, 2011
Libyan woman from Tawargha protests in Martyr's Square,Tripoli, Nov. 5

One month after the official “liberation” of Libya was declared, the authority of the National Transition Council remains tenuous at best and the country remains in a state of chaos. There have been signs of renewed resistance and intense factional struggles within the forces that comprise the NTC.

Resentment against rebel militias continues to build across the country. Libyans are angered over the mob-like rule imposed by NTC militias that regularly loot homes and businesses. At military checkpoints, rebels arrest anyone who cannot produce proper identification.

Conditions in the prisons run by the NTC are inhumane, according to reports from international agencies. The U.N. human rights office has found evidence of torture in the prisons, where NTC fighters take revenge on anyone they suspect of supporting the resistance.

A leaked report by Ban ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, indicates that some 7,000 detainees are currently being held in NTC jails with "no access to due process." The Independent broke the story on Nov. 24. The report affirms that torture in the facilities is widespread. A large number of the prisoners are dark-skinned sub-Sarahan Africans, and there are cases where these prisoners are singled out because of their skin color. Women and children are also among those held. (The Independent, Nov. 24)

The life of Dr. Abuzaid Omar Dorda, once Libya’s prime minister and permanent representative to the U.N. under Gaddafi, has been in grave danger since his capture on Sept. 11. Prison guards broke both of his legs during an attempt on his life, which also caused internal bleeding. He remains untreated from those injuries.

Meanwhile, there are factional struggles erupting between the multitude of brigades that comprise the NTC military forces. On Nov. 12, quarreling units exchanged gunfire 15 miles outside of Tripoli, sending panic-stricken residents running from their homes. There is also evidence that Al-Qaeda forces are among those who have been fighting alongside NATO, as the Al-Qaeda flag was hoisted earlier this month above the Benghazi courthouse that was used as rebel headquarters throughout the year.

Signs of renewed resistance

Just 90 miles south of Tripoli in Bani Walid, residents remain defiant to the new government. In the town’s main hospital, which is under the control of a former NTC fighter, a portrait of Gaddafi lies at the floor of the entrance. The majority of the hospital’s visitors walk around the portrait, so as not to disrespect the former leader.

One NTC fighter told Reuters that "There are shootouts every day with Gaddafi loyalists.” (Reuters, Oct. 26) There have been reports that Warfalla tribe members were hoisting the green flags that symbolize the resistance and marching on Nov. 16. Anti-Gaddafi graffiti in the town has been covered up and painted over with warnings of resistance, including the slogan “the Warfalla tribe hasn’t used its power yet.” Nearly one-sixth of the Libyan population belongs to the Warfalla.

On Nov. 23 there were armed clashes between NTC troops and the Green Resistance in Bani Walid. Reports indicate that 7 people died, most of whom were NTC fighters.

Throughout the west, from Tripoli to Al-Zawiya, there have been clashes between the resistance and NATO forces. On Nov. 11, the resistance launched an offensive against what is known as Camp 27. During the fighting, resistance forces managed to free 300 prisoners. There has even been fighting in the rebel stronghold of Misrata.

Resistance groups have been formally organizing in the Sahel region in the south and have officially formed the Libyan Liberation Front. The region stretches across the borders of Niger, Chad, Sudan and provides easy access to Mali. There are reports that LLF is gathering weapons and providing training in the region. (Counterpunch, Nov. 4-6)

The LLF will likely find sympathy amongst the countries bordering the Sahel. In a recent soccer game between Tunisia and Algeria, the players and fans took a moment of silence to honor Muammar Gaddafi. During the game, fans held up a large composite photo of Gaddafi.

In addition to organizing militarily, the LLF is organizing formal political opposition to the NTC. They plan on running in the promised elections next summer.

Imperialists capture Saif al Islam Gaddafi

On Nov. 19, NTC forces announced that they had captured Saif al-Islam Gaddafi outside of Sabha and Ubari. The verification of his capture by video and cell phone footage came as a surprise, as the NTC had previously reported that they had captured him numerous times and killed him once.

When the plane transporting Saif al-Islam landed in Zintan, an angry crowd of resistance supporters flooded the tarmac and tried to storm the plane.

The International Criminal Court has wanted to try Saif al-Islam for alleged crimes committed during the February rebel uprising, and has had a warrant out for his arrest since June.

There are several problems with this situation. The first is that the alleged crimes for which he is to be tried have been thoroughly disproven by numerous human rights organizations. There was never any massacring of civilians; what happened in Libya was a civil war. The second problem with the ICC’s intervention is that the agency only has jurisdiction over its member nations’ territories and citizens. Libya was not and, at the time of this writing, is not a member.

The Libyan Liberal Youth, a resistance group, issued the following statement online: “This war has not been about the Gadhaffi family, it's about the majority of Libyans rejection of foreign invasions, massacres, and intrusion into Libyan affairs.”


Radio interview: NATO’s expanding horizons


NATO’s expanding horizons
November 21st, 2011
Featured Guest: Rick Rozoff

CIUT 89.5 FM

The Taylor Report
November 25, 2011




Program Description:

NATO is more and more becoming the center of all things in every quarter of the globe, so Phil speaks with a very important news source: Rick Rozoff, of “Stop NATO.” They cover the whole gamut: from Eastern Europe to the Northwest Passage to Libya. And while NATO appears to be receding from the Libyan story, even Saif Gaddafi’s current trial was enabled by NATO airpower. Rozoff suggests that NATO now wishes to avoid a trial for Saif because of the earlier embarrassment of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic mounting a legal defense after the Kosovo war. It would be more convenient for Gaddafi to die at the hands of the new “independent” Libyan government.

Meanwhile, the guiding objectives are the same, whether in NATO’s East European frontiers in Kosovo and Georgia, or the shores of Tripoli. In Libya, NATO spokespeople are forecasting “NATO interoperable forces,” and kings and dictators are supported in Georgia and elsewhere. NATO also seeks a “Middle Eastern Partnership” to bring that area into their fold.

While NATO and clients commit acts of aggression around the world, only those who “resist assault” end up on the docket. The U.S. plays with fire, engaging in brinkmanship with Syria, Iran, and North Korea. We could wake up any day to terrifying news of a new war. So why does Harper want to be a wolf in this wolfpack?


Spinning Invasions from the Nile to the Euphrates and Beyond

If a man seeks to understand Rome’s casuss reason for each foreign conquest, he needs only look into the Treasury.

— Tacitus, AD 56 – AD 117

As the US and UK lead towards more illegal overthrows, invasions and destruction in Iran and Syria, a political pattern of manipulation and disinformation has become an art form.

Libya, under Colonel Gaddafi, with highest (UN) Human Development Index in Africa, and living standard which drew immigrants from across the region, has been air brushed out and replaced with a “mad dog” – and a liberating lynching. Oil, spoils and reconstruction contracts, though, are being divvied out apace.

Iraq, formerly described in UN Reports as approaching “First World” standards, also much in ruins, shattered infrastructure trumpeted as due to “thirty years of neglect.” No mention of over fifteen years of decimating embargo and bombings, culminating in “Shock and Awe.” Pretty glaring omissions.

Now President Assad of Syria is being subject to the same build up – or taking down – with calls for a Libya-style “no fly zone.” Being an independent-minded Arab leader certainly comes with a health warning.

On 20th November, Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak commented:  “And it’s clear to me that what happened a few weeks ago to Qaddafi… and what happened ultimately to Saddam Hussein, now might await him.”

Another day, another “despot”, more chilling alarm calls. Ehud Barak is surely in line for the Nobel Peace Prize.

But a decade or so is a long time in politics, especially with Western allies emboldened by a lynching or two.

Consider this from political analyst Sami Moubayid, author of Steel and Silk, Men and Women who have Shaped Syria and other scholarly literary over-views of the country’s  modern history.

In December 2000, six months into Bashar Al-Assad’s tenure, he wrote of a “cultural revolution” the new President was implementing, entitling the piece “A Modern-Day Attaturk.”

“Overnight the thousands of pictures of Hafez Al-Assad … disappeared”, following a statement committing to a “realistic” policy that did not immortalize and over-exaggerate leaders. “A relief … from the ever increasing photo-mania” of Syria (and the region’s) political culture.

Decades old bureaucratic laws were scrapped, a 25% wage increase was instituted  – not universally welcomed, as rumors had been circulating that it would be far higher, but quite a start. Compulsory military service was “somewhat” reformed – a service instituted to counter the perceived “ever present” Israeli military threat.

Freedom of speech was “marginally” restored and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, jailed since 1982, perceived a threat to the regime’s existence, were released. A conciliatory hand extended. An Ex-chief of staff to his father, Hikmat Shihabi, with close links to Washington, who had fled the country after allegations of corruption, was welcomed back and received as a guest in the Presidential palace. Another returnee was an “outspoken” newspaper Editor, Aref Dalila, formerly critical of the regime – who resumed his criticisms.

Before becoming President, Bashar had opened the country up to internet and mobile ‘phone use.

When his father had traveled : “… roads were sealed (and) his entourage comprised ten cars, a mine detector and an ambulance.” Bashar began driving himself, with two car security, eating in public restaurants and attending prayers in various mosques.

He was, concluded Moubayed: “ … revolutionizing Syrian society at a slow and delicate pace”, warning of the ”the challenge of living up to his people’s very high expectations.”

Given the subsequent turmoil in the region and Syria’s hosting of nearly two million post-invasion Iraqi refugees, he has walked a challenging political and financial tight rope.

Media, politicians and rights groups citing human rights abuses as excuse for regime change, seemingly forget Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, and uncounted renditions to unknown detention dungeons across the world; torture, water boarding, and simply disappearing.

In an imperfect world, threatened Syria is fighting an enemy within, but the US, UK and allies most recent marauding, is uncounted horrifying deaths, acres of communities turned to rubble, culminating in the second lynching of a sovereign leader.

The remodeling of the Middle East, however, has been long on the cards .”9/11”, it is increasingly clear, provided the perfect excuse.

Maidhc Ó Cathail, in a recent article, recalled a 2003 comment written by Patrick Buchanan:

In the Perle-Feith-Wurmser strategy, Israel’s enemy remains Syria, but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad.

The road to Baghdad, of course, had been planned since 1998, when the Iraq Liberation Act declared:

… that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.

(Authorizing) the President … to provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations: (1) grant assistance for radio and television broadcasting to Iraq; (2) Department of Defense (DOD) defense articles and services and military education and training …

Directs the President to designate: (1) one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that meet specified criteria as eligible to receive assistance under this Act; and (2) additional such organizations which satisfy the President’s criteria.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq’s transition to democracy….

By July 2002 when a bunch of US funded Iraqi opposition were welcomed by the British government and hosted in Kensington Town Hall, in a pattern now depressingly familiar in countries doomed to “democratization”, US officials “have reported that SAS troops and MI6 agents are already in Iraq working with opposition groups in the northern Kurdish areas of the country.”

In 1946 a US State Department Report had described Iraq as “… a stupendous source of strategic power and the greatest material prize in world history”.

Compared to that, Syria does not have vast natural resources (comparatively limited petroleum, with phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower). However, it is geographically “The doorway to Asia and the Middle East.”

Iraq had its “liberation Act”, in  May 2004, the United States imposed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, imposing, in all too familiar words: “ …a series of sanctions against Syria for its support of terrorism … weapons of mass destruction programs and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq.” Jaw dropping stuff from a country which illegally attacked Iraq, having worked tirelessly on its destabilization for years. (Emphasis mine.)

In 2006, the US Department of the Treasury imposed “special measures” against the Commercial Bank of Syria. As ever, Judge, jury and executioner.

In 2007, Israel bombed an undeclared “nuclear facility” – except it wasn’t. Another weapons of mass destruction myth. It was a textile factory. A German journalist tracked down machine suppliers, but the designing engineer.

A re-run of the Iraq baby milk factory, declared a chemical weapons factory and flattened – transpiring to be a British engineered baby milk factory. The Al-Shifa pharmacetical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, suffered a similar fate under US bombs in August 1998, also accused of making chemical weapons.

It manufactured mainly veterinary medicines and malarial drugs, antibiotics, at prices which undercut the Western multinationals.  The suppliers for construction had included the US, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.

Beware of Western governments making assertions.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Minister and Conservative Friend of Israel, William Hague, met “Syrian opposition representatives” (insurgents?) on Monday declaring: “…we will do what we can to support democracy in Syria in the future.”  He appointed former Ambassador to Lebanon and Yemen, Frances Guy, to lead London’s co-ordination with them.

Iraq and Libya revisited.

In the myriad political games, arm twisting, manipulation and propaganda, it should be remembered that President Assad is Regional Secretary of the Arab Ba’ath Party. With Saddam Hussein gone and the concept of a Pan-Arab state now outlawed in Iraq, Syria is the remaining symbol of America’s nemesis, but a concept close to many Arab hearts.

The fathers of the vision of Pan-Arab national ideals combined with socialism, of course, were Damascus  born Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar, who formed the Ba’ath Party in the early 1940s.

The commitment included freeing the Arab world of Western colonialism.

Arguably, the overthrow of the last bastion of this ideal on the road through Damascus would be a powerful Crusaders “victory.”

Echoing Foreign Minister Hague, President Genghis Obama has vowed that the US will: “continue to work with our friends and allies to pressure the Al Assad regime and support the Syrian people as they pursue the dignity and transition to democracy they deserve.” He omitted the “delivered by tens of thousands of air strikes.”

Assad’s hand of conciliation to the Muslim Brotherhood has been badly bitten as they push for a “no fly zone”, implemented by NATO Member, neighbouring Turkey.

Further, Tony Cartalucci argues that:

The ‘’Free Syria Army’ is literally an army of militant extremists, many drawn not from Syria’s military ranks, but from the Muslim Brotherhood, carrying heavy weapons back and forth over the Turkish and Lebanese borders, funded, supported, and armed by the United States, Israel, and Turkey.

Pepe Escobar  concurs, citing:

A report by a Qatar-based researcher for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) even comes close to admitting that the self-described ‘Free Syria Army’ is basically a bunch of hardcore Islamists, plus a few genuine army defectors, but mostly radicalized Muslim Brotherhood bought, paid for and weaponized by the US, Israel, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey.

He adds:

As Tehran sees it, what’s really going on regarding Syria is a ‘humanitarian’ cover for a complex anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iran operation.

The road map is already clear … And psy-ops abound …

In context, one Washington allegation last week accused Syria of aggression towards Lebanon by mining their common border.  Lebanese de-mining teams combed the border and found none. (Jordan Times, 18th November 2011.)

This week both Iran and Lebanon have claimed to have arrested alleged CIA spy rings. The Lebanese Cabinet is to summon the US Ambassador, Maura Connelly to question her on the issue. They have also submitted a complaint to the UN on alleged Israeli covert activities.

Baghdad, so extensively destroyed in 2003, was the “Paris of the 9th Century.” Damascus ,“City of Jasmin”, is widely thought to be the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. The Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The superb Umayyad Mosque,built in the 7th century, is a monument to inspirational wonders of that millennium.

Inside a shrine to John the Baptist, believed by Christian scholars to have baptized Jesus, is perhaps a reminder across the millenia of the secular nature of Syrian society – as broadly, Iraq and Libya before Western intervention.

Saint Paul was sent to what is now Syria to destroy the Christians, believers are taught. His conversion on the road to Damascus changed all that. It can only be fervently hoped that today’s marauders also have a Damascene conversion for the sake of Syria’s population of today and most ancient of nations.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.

Tarpley Brings Greetings from Western Anti-NATO Forces to the Patriots of Syria

Webster G. Tarpley Ph.D.
November 24, 2011

This demonstration was held at the Hijaz Railway Station in Damascus on Sunday, November 20. It was also addressed by a Russian delegation, and by French blogger Marc George of Media Libre.

US-recruited Al Qaeda snipers terrorize Syrian civilians

Webster Tarpley from Damascus: ‘CIA, MI6 and Mossad, together against Syria'

Voltaire Network | 21 November 2011

[Photo: U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford (left) is, according to reliable sources, the key State Department official who has been responsible for recruiting Arab “death squads” from Al Qaeda-affiliated (CIA funded) units in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Chechnya to fight against Syrian military and police forces in embattled Syria.]

The West is doing its best to destabilize the situation in Syria, author and journalist Webster Tarpley told RT. According to him, civilians have to deal with death squads and blind terrorism, which is typical of the CIA.

What average Syrians of all ethnic groups say about this is that they are being shot at by snipers. People complained that there are terrorist snipers who are shooting at civilians, blind terrorism simply for the purpose of destabilizing the country. I would not call this civil war – it is a very misleading term. What you are dealing with here are death squads, you are dealing with terror commandos; this is a typical CIA method. In this case it’s a joint production of CIA, MI6, Mossad, it’s got money coming from Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar,” he explained.

He added that Syrian society is the most tolerant society in the Middle East, the one place where all kinds of people live together in remarkable harmony, Muslims and Christians of all kinds.

“This is a model of a peaceful coexistence of various ethnic groups. The US policy right now is to smash the Middle East according to ethnic lines,” he added.

Assad’s rule is increasingly being called illegitimate. But the US and Europe do not seem concerned that getting rid of the Syrian president could cause even more violence, as was seen in Egypt, believes Ta

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